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How to Occupy the Kids During the Thanksgiving Break

Need some ideas on what to do with the kids while Hillsborough schools are closed for the week?

Thanksgiving break is under way and there are still days to go until the turkey is cooked and the family fun begins.

If you’re stumped about what to do with the kids to occupy their time, here are a few ideas:

Visit the Park

Hillsborough County schools are closed, but the parks aren’t.

Lettuce Lake Park and the Tampa Audubon Society is hosting a Nature Art Camp Nov. 19-23 for $120.

Registration can be done at the Audubon Resource Center in Lettuce Lake Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on any Saturday or Sunday, by calling 813-727-5478 or mailing a registration form and payment Lettuce Lake Park c/o Audubon Society, 6920 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa, FL 3363.

Catch a Matinee

Thanksgiving time is traditionally a great period for family-friendly movies. Take in a matinee at AMC The Regency 20 at 2496 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon.

The animated PG comedy, "Wreck-It Ralph in 3D," is now playing.

Fun Activities for Kids

Pump It Up, 729 A. W. Lumsden Rd., Brandon, is offering a Holiday Pop in Play at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, a Holiday Pop in Play at 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and a Family Night Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

The Brandon Ice Sports Forum at 10222 Elizabeth Place in Tampa offers laser tag in addition to an arcade game room with 13 games.

IKEA Tampa will host its free IKEA Tampa Kids Academy Monday, Nov. 19 through Wednesday, Nov. 21. Kids 12 and under will enjoy a fun activity, receive an IKEA Kids Academy T-shirt and get a free kids meal in the IKEA restaurant. Activities are scheduled for 11 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the exit lobby.

Oakfield Lanes at 1001 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, will offer $1 bowling games Monday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon.  

Take a trip over to Largo to visit the Florida Botanical Gardens Friday, Nov. 23 for the Christmas lights display. More than 500,000 lights illuminate the thousands of plants and trees in the gardens. There also will be entertainment and a laser light show. The cost is $2 for adults and free for children 12 and under.   

Go ice skating at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Special hours for Thanksgiving week are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. The rink is closed Thanksgiving Day. Admission is $10, including skate rental, to skate for 90 minutes.

The Museum of Science & Industry, 4801 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, is hosting Cirque Italia Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 24 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 25 at 1 and 5 p.m. The Italian entertainment act features aerial acts, hand-balancing acts, contortionists, hula hoops and other performances. The cost is $25 to $40 for adults and $10 to $35 for children age 2 to 12.

Cirque Italia will provide a $5 discount per ticket when guests bring a canned good donation for Metropolitan Ministries through the week of Nov. 21- 25. Additionally, the performers will donate 10 percent of ticket proceeds to Metropolitan Ministries.

MOSI will be open with special hours on Thanksgiving day. The museum will be open on Thursday, Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first IMAX movie will begin at 12:10 p.m. and the last showing of "Skyfall" that night will begin at 7:45 p.m.

Who doesn't love penguins? The Florida Aquarium will be closed Thanksgiving Day but will reopen Nov. 23 with Penguin Appreciation Weekend, featuring the African black-footed penguins and a fun-filled penguin-themed weekend Nov. 23-25 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be penguin-themed activities throughout the Aquarium, additional opportunities to meet and interact with the penguins and even tuxedo T-shirt-wearing Scuba divers.

There is no additional cost to participate in these activities and a portion of the weekend’s proceeds will benefit The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of these animals.

Make Some Crafts at Home

If you want to keep little hands busy, there are all kinds of holiday crafts they can create to decorate the dinner table for the feast! Just check out this story for details.

Do you have suggestions for things to do with the kids in the Bloomingdale-Riverview area over the holiday break? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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