Need to entertain the kids this winter? A few Washington area indoor activities.

By Jessica McFadden
Friday, January 22, 2010

Just because the temperatures have dropped doesn't mean that your kids' energy levels have. On the contrary, without long periods of outdoor play and running around, your little maniacs may seem even more manic than usual.

These indoor play options provide the cure, as well as treat another frequent ailment: acute restless parent syndrome.

Wild Side Stage at the National Zoo

New this year at the National Zoo are Wild Side Stage performances for children, a series of educational kid-centric shows held in the auditorium of the zoo's visitor center. Musicians, dancers, storytellers and puppeteers from across the country take the stage twice a day on Sundays through March 7, except Jan. 31.

Wild Side Stage project manager Sarah Beale says, "We wanted to bring more people to the zoo during the winter and make more indoor activities available to families."

Rachel Posell of Silver Spring attended the first performance by children's rock musician Brady Rymer with her twin kindergartners and 3-year-old. "It's an intimate venue, and we found the show and then walking around the zoo and grabbing lunch the perfect thing to do with our family trip on a cold winter day," she said.

Families are encouraged to visit the accompanying animal exhibit before or after they catch a performance at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Special activities are held in the featured exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday: CityDance Ensemble, dance interpretation of "The Jungle Book." Reptile House special exhibit.

Feb. 7: DinoRock, musical puppets. Bird House special exhibit.

Feb. 21: Lucas Miller, singing zoologist. Invertebrate special exhibit.

Feb. 28: Antonio Rocha, interactive storyteller. Small Mammal House special exhibit.

March 7: Zoo staff explains the animals' diets. Asia Trail special exhibit.

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