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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with the kids



sandsculpture_0.jpgWho needs loads of cash to have fun? The sand sculpture on Clearwater Beach is done, and the dogs are taking over the library and the fairgrounds (we are seriously loving the idea of a dog who listens attentively as children read to him), and an awesome children's museum is offering $5 admission for the next two weeks! Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions:

The 75-ton Sandsational Clearwater sand sculpture, left, is carved in the round and highlights famous elements of Clearwater including Winter the Dolphin and Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Super Boat Races, Phillies spring training and Clearwater's popular powdery white sand beaches. The carving will remain on display until Saturday, weather permitting. It will be lit at night for better viewing at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. Free.

The Glazer Children’s Museum is offering $5 admission Saturday through Sept. 30 in celebration of its first birthday. In the past when the hands-on museum have offered deal days, the place has been mobbed so a two-week price break is a nice option. Regular admission is $15 for adults; $9.50 for children. The museum is in Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza in Tampa. Aimed for kids age 10 and under, the museum has more than 170 challenging 'interactivities' in 12 themed areas.

tucker.jpgThe pooches are taking over this week! First there’s today’s Dog Day at the St. Pete Beach Library today (Thursday) where kids can meet Tucker, right, the cuddly Welsh springer spaniel who is the library’s specially trained reading therapy dog. It’s a great tool for struggling readers, said library director Phyllis Ruscella. “He listens really intently as the children read to him,” she said. “They just find Tucker a perfect audience. It’s really quite sweet.” Meet Tucker at 4 p.m. today at the St. Pete Beach Library, 365 73rd Ave.

And more dogs on Saturday, where it’s Dog Day at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where you can bring your dog on a leash for a day of visiting with dogs of all breeds, seeing adoptable pets and playing canine and people games. There will also be a kid zone, canine good citizen evaluations, contests and vendors. It’s free, with $5 parking, starting at 9 a.m. at the fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa.

Get a free meal today (Thursday) at Pollo Tropical if you dress like a chicken or just head to toe in yellow and cluck at a cashier. Get a free quarter chicken meal with red beans and rice from 2 to 7 p.m. today at locations in Tampa, Oldsmar and Pinellas Park;

Take the kids for some outdoor fun and games for an End of Summer Play Day. Special guests include Merle and Bonnie Stubbins, who operate the Oldsmar Hedgehog Sanctuary, and Lowe’s will host Build and Grow Kids workshops. It’s at 9 a.m. Saturday at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. Free.

Ah, pretend it feels like fall as you wander through a corn maze. There's 7 acres of corn with paths where you find pictures, clues and games. This year’s theme is “renewable energy.” Also on site is the living tree maze and children’s activities, a 60-foot super slide and the “jumping pillow” bounce house without walls. Water for sale. $11, $9 ages 3-16, 2 and younger free. Long and Scott’s Farms, 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora. (352) 383-6900. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

The Pinellas County Urban League’s Black-On-Black Crime Prevention Program holds its 27th annual Crime Prevention Run and Family Festival on Saturday. The 5K run and festival features live entertainment, free food, health screenings, social services information and door prizes. Free. Childs Park Recreation Center, 4301 13th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 327-2081, ext. 114. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

The Fisher-Price Play Weekend returns to the Lowry Park Zoo this weekend.  Fisher-Price brings a supersized play area filled with its newest toys for kids ages 5 and younger to try out. Free with zoo admission. $23.95, $21.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Pioneer Nights is ann afternoon of old-time fun and an evening around the campfire. Best for ages 7-13. $25 (advance registration required). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 2-9 p.m. Saturday.

The Planetarium Shows at St. Petersburg College are free and very informative.  Families with children ages 5 and older are invited to the “star theater,” which can accurately simulate the night sky at any time or location on Earth. This portion features “The Stars of Summer.” Weather permitting, the rooftop observatory will be open after the shows for kids to check out the stars and planets using telescopes. Free. St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 341-4320. 7 and 8:15 p.m. Friday.

Lakeland's Polk Museum of Art is having a Family Day on Saturday.  A new exhibit, “The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” provides the theme for this event. Explore cultural diversity around the world through activities and art projects. Entertainment will include magician Luis Campaneria, storyteller Rick Olivo, Steve Knight and his puppets and a mini circus. The first 750 school-age children will receive a free bag of back-to-school art supplies. Free. Polk Museum of Art, 800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland. (863) 688-5423. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Grab a bean bag chair for a free movie screening at the Pop-Up Theater at Countryside Mall with family-friendly activities including face painting and balloon artists. Today features the G-rated comedy Charlotte’s Web. Tuesday features the PG-rated animated adventure Open Season. Free. Westfield Countryside mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Suite 2096, Clearwater. (727) 796-1070. 2 p.m. today and Tuesday.

The Bank of America Children’s Learning Center will be open for Saturdays at the Morean for art exploration, with open art stations and take-home projects designed for families with children ages 5-10. Instructors will be on hand to assist. Free. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Show your kids why you have Pearl Jam in your music collection. On Tuesday Pearl Jam 20 brings the legendary Seattle-based rock band to movie theaters as they celebrate their 20th anniversary with a film that chronicles the band's beginning. The movie, directed by Cameron Crowe, has gotten raves from critics -- even non-Pearl Jam fans like Stuck in 80s maestro Steve Spears who blames grunge for killing the '80s vibe. It's $10.50 on Tuesday at the Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8982. 7:30 p.m.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:08pm]


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