If you are looking for a guide to keep you and your family entertained, we have got you covered! We’ve started a monthly events guide to be sure you don’t miss a thing happening around the Madison area. Here are this month’s “need to know” activities.
The Mombassadors for our Neighborhood Groups organize monthly meet-ups, so be sure to join the Facebook group for your area!
Links to area libraries, open swim times, and open play/jump activities can be found near the end of this post. This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you know of any fun family activities we have missed, please let us know in the comments.
Wednesday, January 3: Free Family Night-Family Resource Fair: 5-8 pm at the Madison Children’s Museum | On the first open Wednesday night of each month, MCM invites our entire community to enjoy the museum for free. Free Family Night is a great time for first time visitors to enjoy the museum, and is a popular time for older children to return to visit their favorite exhibits. On January 3, we host a Family Resource Fair. Local family resource agencies will be on hand with information for families on topics ranging from health & wellness to cultural community programming.The evening also includes a financial planning workshop for parents and guardians who have children with special needs.
Saturday, January 6: Moove & Groove: 9:30 am – 12 pm at DreamBank | Get the entire family movin’ at DreamBank! Join Susan Neeley, owner of Moove and Groove, for an extreme dance party complete with bubbles, games, hula hoops, bean bag toss and so much more. Be sure to bring your dancin’ shoes!
Saturday, January 6: Kids in the Rotunda-Truly Remarkable Loon: 9:30 am, 11:30 am, & 1 pm at the Overture Center | Welcome to Overture’s Kids in the Rotunda the wacky stunts, sidesplitting comedy, gravity-defying plate spinning and spectacular juggling of Madison’s craziest purple guy, Truly Remarkable Loon! From beanbag chairs to a parasol to a live mongoose, if it isn’t nailed down you can’t stop Loon from tossing it in the air in a hilarious juggling variety act that you and your family won’t soon forget! The audience will knock down the spinning plates when they unleash the flying monkeys!
Saturday, January 6: Cure Cabin Fever: The Hodag of the North Woods: 10 am – 2 pm at the Wisconsin Historical Museum | The Hodag of the North Woods – Meet our hodag and make yourself into a hodag! Find out what a hodag is! Plus, the first Saturday of the month means Story Saturday at the Museum; join us for a reading of Happy the Hodag at 11am. Cure Cabin Fever happens on Saturdays in January at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Each Saturday, the Museum will have free, family-friendly, drop-in activities to help shake off those winter blues! Free with admission by suggested donation: $5/adult, $3/child.
Saturday, January 6: Saturday Science-Aldo Leopold Day: 10 am – 12 pm at the UW Discovery Building | Celebrate Wisconsin’s legendary naturalist and his legacy of environmentalism and conservation! Identify and investigate mammals, birds, fish, insects, reptiles and amphibians; read animal tracks and tree rings; make your own nature journal; build instruments to measure the wind and weather; and more. This event is free and open to the public. It features interactive exploration stations for kids and families and is presented in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center.
Sunday, January 7: Mr. Popper’s Penguins: 3 pm at the Overture Center | With original songs and performing penguin puppets, this delightful, action-packed musical adaptation of Richard and Florence Atwater’s popular book (also made into a Hollywood film starring Jim Carrey) is the perfect family treat! All ages. Tickets $22-$32.
Friday, January 12: El Día de los Tres Reyes: 4-6 pm at Centro Hispano | This traditional “3 Kings’ Day” celebration is a community favorite. Held at Centro for more than 400 children and their families in early January, the event is one that many of our community members and their children look forward to all year. As part of the festivities we give out gifts to the children (ages 12 & under), hold a raffle, and provide traditional pastries, coffee and hot chocolate to our families.
Friday, January 12: Music with Corey: 10-10:30 am at the Black Earth Children’s Museum | Music with Corey is a fun and interactive musical experience for toddlers, preschool aged children, and their families. Come join in the fun, sing songs, and play along.
Friday, January 12: Friday Fun Night: 5:30-8:30 pm at the Warner Park Community Center | See website for details.
Saturday, January 13: Winter Crafting Bonanza: 9:30 am – 12 pm at DreamBank | Bring the kids and create your very own winter-themed masterpiece at DreamBank! Join us on this cold winter morning and help your child discover their inner artistic visions. We’ll provide the supplies, so all your family needs is imagination and creativity!
Saturday, January 13: Kids in the Rotunda-Monkey Business: 9:30 am, 11:30 am, & 1 pm at the Overture Center | Get ready for a serious case of the giggles! The Monkey Business Institute features the best improvised comedy in the region. With no set, props, scripts or line memorization to fall back on in this special performance for youngsters, the Monkey Business Institute uses their super strong imaginations to create spur-of-the-moment, seat-of-their-pants improvisational comedy. Specializing in traditional and musical improv comedy, the Monkey Business Institute works with the audience to create the fun all while teaching valuable lessons about team work, listening, story telling, emoting, pantomime, and how to use you mind and body to express your creativity!
Saturday, January 13: Cure Cabin Fever-Lake Lurkers: 10 am – 2 pm at the Wisconsin Historical Museum | Learn about Wisconsin’s lake lurkers and create new monster creatures of your own! Cure Cabin Fever happens on Saturdays in January at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Each Saturday, the Museum will have free, family-friendly, drop-in activities to help shake off those winter blues! Free with admission by suggested donation: $5/adult, $3/child.
Sunday, January 14: Winter Magic Show-Wayne the Wizard: 1 pm at the Friends of the Waisman Center Auditorium | Wayne the Wizard has amazed audiences of all ages throughout Wisconsin for over 25 years. This astonishing magician performs his dazzling array of illusions for a wide variety of events. Wayne is also an accomplished ventriloquist and has a number of different characters to fit any occasion. Putting a lot of comedy into every routine, Wayne performs every style of magic and related arts. He has larger illusions, stage and close-up magic. $2.00, adults; $1.00, children.
Saturday, January 20: Music Lab with Julie Mazer: 9:30 am – 12 pm at DreamBank | Uncover your little one’s innate musicality with music-making activities using their voice, body and instruments! Local early childhood music teacher, Julie Mazer, will guide your child’s journey with simple rhythmic and melodic concepts. They’ll even get to create their very own musical instrument to take home!
January 20-21: Free Fishing Weekend | Fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend. Most waters of the state are included, except for spring trout ponds (Review the trout regulations; wherever you see a season date listed for a specific body of water, you’d be fine, although some waters may be catch and release only.) All other inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River are open for you to test your skills and try your luck. Remember, all usual regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force. Please exercise caution before heading out on the ice. Free Fishing Weekends are always held the third full weekend in January and the first full weekend in June. In 2018, it will be January 20 – 21; next summer it will be June 2 – 3, 2018.
Saturday, January 20: Kids’ Day at the High Noon Saloon: 11 am – 2 pm | David Landau’s 13th annual “Kids’ Day at the High Noon” is coming up on Saturday, January 20. There will be 2 shows: The first one starts at 11:00am and the second one starts at 1:00pm. The shows are 60 minutes long and there is a cover charge of $5.00 per person for each show. The High Noon Saloon is very family friendly and has wonderful drinks for kids and adults. They also sell Glass Nickel Pizza by the slice. And remember… HALF PRICE ROOT BEER FOR ANY KID IN COWBOY BOOTS.
Saturday, January 20: Kid Disco: 11 am – 2 pm at The Great Dane-Hilldale | The Great Dane Hilldale is bringing disco back and making it cooler than ever. Kid Disco is back for another year of fun and entertainment. Funny Faces Entertainment will be helping out to bring the kids all the fun they could ask for, from balloon sculptures to face painting they have it all. Don’t forget about the music. DJ Nick Nice will be setting the mood of the ’70s through his musical genius. The price of admission is $5 per person, but includes two snacks and a drink for the kids. There will be a maximum charge of $15 per family. 11am-2pm.
Saturday, January 20: Cure Cabin Fever-Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: 10 am – 2 pm at the Wisconsin Historical Museum | Dress up like Paul Bunyan and build yourself a log cabin! Eat a mighty meal fit for lumberjacks and lumberjills provided by Blue Plate Catering starting at 10am. Food will be served while supplies last. Cure Cabin Fever happens on Saturdays in January at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Each Saturday, the Museum will have free, family-friendly, drop-in activities to help shake off those winter blues! Free with admission by suggested donation: $5/adult, $3/child.
Saturday, January 20: Bring on Spring Concert: 10-11 am at the Verona Area Performing Arts Center | This FREE family friendly event is open to ALL ages. It features Ken Lonnquist and the Kenland Band. Ken Lonnquist brings song and laughter to all ages, writing about nature, human nature, imagination and current events.
Saturday, January 20: Kids in the Rotunda-The Handphibians: 9:30 am, 11:00 am, & 1 pm at the Overture Center | The Handphibians present a taste of Brazil as Madison’s own community percussion group celebrates 3 different styles of Brazilian rhythms: Rio Style Samba, Samba Reggae of Salvador, and Maracatu from Recife. Founded in 1996 by Robert Schoville, the Handphibians’ music is modeled after the Brazilian baterias of the Escolas de Samba in Rio de Janeiro, Blocos Afros of Salvador, and the Maracatu Naçãos of Recife. Their music is also naturally influenced by the percussion traditions of Africa and even Wisconsin.
Sunday, January 21: Meet the Princesses: 11 a m- 1 pm at HotelRED | Dreams do come true! Princess My Party has partnered with HotelRED to host a royal gathering of the princess at Madison’s #1 Stylish Boutique Hotel. For just $25 your child can have the opportunity to meet & get photos with ALL of the princesses. There is no charge for the parent. HotelRED’s restaurant will be serving a special princess brunch from 10 am – 2 pm as well (additional charges apply) so, join us for our event and brunch to make the most royal of occasion! The princesses that will be in attendance are: The Snow Sisters, Glass Slipper Princess, Ocean Princess, Latin Princess, Apple Princess, Princess Sofia, Beauty, Sleeping Princess, Long Haired Princess, and Mermaid Princess. Each will have their own backdrop & photo set up.
Saturday, January 27: Family Fitness with Happy Bambino: 9:30 am – 12 pm at DreamBank | Start the New Year by promoting healthy habits for the whole family! Join staff from Happy Bambino as you move, dance and get your heart rate up this new year. This family-friendly event will include family Zumba, family strength training, and some family yoga and stretching. All levels welcome! Bring the whole family as we move together and get fit as a community.
Saturday, January 27: Cure Cabin Fever-The Tommyknocker in the Lead Mine: 10 am – 2 pm at the Madison Historical Museum | Mine for gemstones and explore a lead mine inside the Museum! Join us for a tasting of yummy pasties provided by Myles’s Teddywedgers starting at 10am. Food will be served while supplies last. Cure Cabin Fever happens on Saturdays in January at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Each Saturday, the Museum will have free, family-friendly, drop-in activities to help shake off those winter blues! Free with admission by suggested donation: $5/adult, $3/child.
Saturday, January 27: Kids in the Rotunda-Magic Morgan & Liliana: 9:30 am, 11:00 am, & 1 pm at the Overture Center | Prepare for eye-popping illusions, dazzling balloon sculptures, stunts with live animals along with seemingly impossible tricks in an unusual and incredible display of magic when deaf entertainer, Magic Morgan and Liliana return to the Rotunda Stage. Back by popular demand, two-time recipient of the World Deaf Magician Award Matthew “Magic” Morgan and Liliana truly keep the audience at the heart of the show by inviting kids and parents onstage to be a part of the magic. Come and be amazed as this husband and wife act combines magic, miming and comedy while communicating in the universal language of fun! Extra fun: Stop by the Central Library’s Children’s Room from 9 am – 1 pm for free art activities, special book displays and more, all inspired by the day’s Kids in the Rotunda performance.
Saturday, January 27: Candlelight Walk: 6:30 pm at Cherokee Marsh | Tour the marsh by candlelight, then warm up with a free hot beverage by the fire. We’ll have three lighted loops – arrive anytime and go at your own pace. This event will take place with or without snow cover. Bring your own snowshoes or wear appropriate boots. Sponsored by the Friends of Cherokee Marsh and Madison Parks.
Casey Day – 9-10 am most Saturdays at The Cargo Bike Shop, Willy St. Join us at The Cargo Bike Shop for an hour of fun music, dancing and singing. Most Saturdays from 9am to 10am. Fun for all ages, whether it’s shaking your booty to Baby Beluga and other Casey Day favorites, or enjoying some Cafe Domestique coffee and a treat from Batch Bakehouse or Underground Food Collective.
Monday Night Kid Music with David Landau – 5:30- 6:15 at the Harmony Bar and Grill | Fun for kids 2 to 8 and totally tolerable for parents of any age! Cover – $3.
The Lunchtime Show with David Landau – 11:30 am – 12 pm at McFarland House Cafe | There is a cover charge of $5.00 per kid for this show. Adults, babies, and babysitters are free of charge.
$5 Tuesdays at The Movies – All first-run Marcus Theater locations. See the hottest blockbusters for just $5. If you’re a MMR member, the popcorn is on us!
$6 Early Bird Movies – Palace (Sun Prairie) and Point (Madison) Cinemas. Early risers can catch any film for just $6 before 11 a.m. at participating locations.
Museum Storytime – UW Madison Geology Museum – 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 10:30 am. Museum storytime is geared toward preschool-aged children and each week features a book, museum specimens and a craft to take home. No reservations required, except for groups larger than 10. Free.
Barnes & Noble East Towne – Various themed storytimes. See website for schedule.
Barnes & Noble West Towne – Various themed storytimes. See website for schedule.
Ongoing Playgroups & Parent Groups:
Morning Play Date at DreamBank – Enjoy a morning of meeting new friends at DreamBank. While the kids participate in interactive story time and crafts, grown-ups can explore our exhibit and enjoy a cup of coffee in our inspiring space. Free snacks, fun and learning abound, so bring your hungry bellies, listening ears and colorful imaginations! 10-11 am.
Sun Prairie Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Monday from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 395 E. Linnerud Dr., Sun Prairie. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Janesville Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Thursday from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 4445 Woodgate Dr., Janesville. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Middleton Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Thursday from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 701 Deming Way, Middleton. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Verona Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Thursdays from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 305 S. Main St., Verona. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Fitchburg Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Fridays from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 2927 S. Fish Hatchery Rd., Fitchburg. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Waunakee Birth-to-Three Play Group – Weekly on Wednesday from 9-10 am at CI Pediatric Therapy Centers, 101 E. Main St., Waunakee. Our drop-in play group allows children to build social skills and enjoy a new environment! Our play group is led by a skilled therapist and is available to answer general development-related questions.
Hike It Baby – Hike It Baby wants to inspire your family to get outside and explore! Hike It Baby is a volunteer run parents group that hosts trail hikes, park & plays, urban strolls, toddler trail wanders and more. See the website or Facebook page for more information. This is a recurring coffee stroller walk at the zoo starting from Zuzu cafe every week on Tuesday at 11am.
Saturday Playgroup at University Houses Preschool – Come along to play, chat and sing with your little ones. Bring a snack and talk to other families while the kids enjoy the toys and dramatic play area.
Saturdays, 10:30- Noon, Sept 9, Oct 14, Nov 11, Dec 9, Jan 13, Feb 10, March 10, April 14, and May 12
6033 Odana Road, Madison, WI 53719. Bring your friends! Everyone is welcome at this free, fun event.
Little Learners – What? Educational play-dates with your little ones. Sessions include story time, music, art, sensory bins, and a snack. Who? Children ages 0 – 5 with their parents or caregivers. When? 10am – 11am on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month. Where? Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Community Room. Cost? $5 per family/session. Payment can be made when you register or on the day of the session
Lodi Moms’ Group Meet-up – We meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 9:30 to 11:00/11:30 at Lake Wisconsin E Free Church in Lodi. There is childcare for pre-school children for the first half while we meet together for a time of connection and study. Then we all go upstairs to play together in the big multi-purpose room. In the summer we have been meeting in parks to play.
Babywearing Meetings – Come join us to learn about babywearing, connect with other caregivers, and bond with your little ones. Bring your own carriers, or learn with ours. Our meetings are always FREE and open to the public! BWI-Madison Meetings are really helpful for learning about safety and new techniques, trying on a wide variety of carriers, and getting personalized guidance from accredited Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs). Plus, you’ll meet some really nice people, and the meetings are super kid-friendly! Become a member and check out a different carrier each month from our lending library of over 150 carriers!
Mother Baby Hour – Located at the Meriter Business Center-See website for various days/times. Mother Baby Hour is a time for moms and their babies to get together to ask questions, express concerns, learn about resources and share stories. A Registered Nurse/Community Educator facilitates the groups and offers a weekly topic. Join us as early as the first week after your baby is born!
Other Ongoing Activities/Events:
Kid’s Herpetological Society Meeting – The general meetings typically occur on the second Friday nights from 7-10 pm at the Clark Street Community School in Middleton. A Kid’s Herpetological Society meets for an hour before regular meetings from 7-8 pm. See website for details and schedule.
Mini Racer Club – Wednesdays from 10:15-11:15 am at Tracks Hobbies. This drop-in program is for our youngest of racers (ages 4-5). Weekly agenda includes a race-themed story, running cars on the Tamiya Track and a simple race-themed craft. How do you get started in the club? – Option 1: You may purchase a Tamiya Mini-4WD kit for adult assembly prior to the first club session. Bring your completed car along to your session. – Option 2: You may purchase a pre-assembled Tamiya Mini-4WD at your first club session. During the session, you decorate the car and run it on the track. TAMIYA CAR KIT FEE: $15-$35, depending on model and assembly status chosen.
Open Art Studio – 12:30-2:30 Monthly on the First Wednesday at The Seventeenth Radish. Come and join us the first Wednesday of every month at either our Verona or Waunakee location. Students will have the opportunity to enjoy art without limits. A variety of art materials will be available to use to create works based on the weekly book. This kid-only drop off event is hosted the first Wednesday every month. Advance registration is required as spaces are limited.
Afterschool Expeditions – Afterschool Expeditions is a free program for students in grades K-8 to explore, engage and discover science from UW–Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research with structured hands-on activities. This program takes place during the fall and spring semesters. TO REGISTER: You pick your adventure! The registration page will have different activity options for each date. You may select only ONE rotation plan per date. This lets us know which two activities you will be participating in when you come.
Warner Family Fun Nights – Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Fridays (see website for dates), $5 per family.
KEVA Open Play – Youth Open Play at KEVA Sports Center. Mondays/Tuesdays/Thursdays 9:30-1. Lots of indoor activities set up for toddlers. Drop in fee accepted or free with a KEVA membership. Begins September 5th.
MMoCAkids ArtPack – Families are encouraged to stop by the reception desk in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art lobby and ask for the MMoCAkids ArtPack, the museum hands-on discovery kit for exploring art. Designed for family members to use together, the ArtPack contains a variety of fun activities that promote observation and imaginative thinking about visual art. Visiting an art museum with a child can be stressful if you are so worried about your child touching the art that you can’t enjoy the art, but the joy of art and art making is for people of all ages. These programs are designed for families with young children.
UW-Arboretum Family Walks – See website for dates and details.
Car Seat Checks – The goal of the Safe Kids Injury Prevention Program is to help educate families on safety and injury prevention. A large component of our work is providing safety information and services to our Dane County communities. Car seat checks are available throughout the Madison area, see website for dates and locations. Appointments are required for car seat checks. You can make an appointment by calling (608) 890-8999 or e-mail [email protected].
Bird and Nature Walks – 1:30-3 pm at various Madison parks – Free, family-friendly Bird and Nature Walks are offered year-round on Sunday afternoons 1:30-3:00 pm by Madison Parks and FUN: Friends of Urban Nature partner groups. Join the FUN!
Open Art Studio – Use the Monroe Street Arts Center studio as your own! Work on a self-directed project under the guidance of an experienced art teacher. We will provide all of the art materials and one planned project per class to get you started. This is a drop-in class, but please call ahead to hold a spot, 608.232.1510. Cost is $12 per class or $48 for 5 classes with an Open Art Studio Pass.
The Crafty Project – The Crafty Project does monthly Kiddo Crafty Events at their creative studio. Additionally, The Crafty Project studio is a fabulous location for mom’s to get together and have a night out and create. They have a fun schedule of classes and offer private events.
Eastern Holistic Health For Families – 11:00am – 12:00pm third Saturdays at Tao Sangha Center. Fee: $8-10 per parent/child pair. Learn and practice how to make our energy and heart positive and strong through fun holistic practices including yoga, family shiatsu healing and Buddhist meditations. Everyone welcome, no experience necessary. RSVP Tao Sangha Healing Center, 2330 Willard Ave, Madison. 608-257-4663 or [email protected] TaoSangha-na.com.
Meditation for Kids and Families – Kadampa Meditation Center of Madison – On Sunday mornings from 10-11:15, we offer Mindful Living: Prayers for World Peace in the main meditation room and Dharma for Kids in the kid’s meditation room. Dharma for Kids is suitable for kids ages 4-10. Older children and teens are welcome to attend the teaching with their parents, and parents with toddlers younger than four can stay with their children to participate in kids class together. Cost: $5/Adult and $1/child over 4.