Here is the second of our two-part series featuring fun-packed weekly themes for summer break 2013 in Omaha. Each of the 10 weekly themes is based on an Omaha event or activity, and then we added to it an assortment of activities, crafts, experiments, books, movies and recipes.

summer break OmahaIf you missed it, be sure to read the first post that features the first five weeks. The last five weeks, which are covered in this post, are:

  1. Glass art
  2. Dinosaurs
  3. Raúl Colón
  4. Water fun
  5. Balloons

As I stated in the first post, there are lots of options out there. This is just to get your wheels turning and to maybe offer you some ideas and direction when you feel a little lost or overwhelmed. After all, there is no shortage when it comes to fun things to do and see in Omaha.

Week 6 | July 6 | GLASS ART

OUTING | Glass art

Chihuly: Inside and Out at the Joslyn Museum

This installation, “Chihuly: Inside and Out,” can be seen at the Joslyn Museum. And you’ve probably heard, admission is now free to the museum. Bonus.

Omaha is fortunate to be home to two Dale Chihuly public installations. “Chihuly: Inside and Out,” was installed in the east end of the ConAgra Foods Atrium at the Joslyn Art Museum in 2000. Also in 2000, “Toreador Red” was installed in the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Institute. Both are magnificent installations to behold. While viewing them, you might even want to hand your camera to your kids and let them experiment with photographing these installations — different angles, zooming in, zooming out, how about lying on the floor and looking up?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know the Hot Shops Art Center is one of my favorite destinations. This downtown attraction features Crystal Forge, the fused glass and blown glass studio located in the southwest corner of the Hot Shops Market North building. Stop by between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday though Friday, or 11 am to 5 pm on the weekends, and hopefully the furnaces will be firing and you’ll get to watch some glass works in progress. You can also stop to say “hi” to Valerie in her Hot Shops first-floor stained glass studio, Painted Light Stained Glass. It’s just down the hall from Crystal Forge. She creates beautiful stained glass windows, sun catchers, jewelry and glass-fused images. You can read more about her in my earlier “Omaha Gifted” feature.


Before heading to your glass art outing, you and your kids might want to read about how glass is made. (It also makes a nice tie-in to the earlier sand theme.)

With the season of early sunrises and gorgeous sunsets upon us, it’s the perfect time to enjoy some sun catchers and stained glass crafts. Here are more than 39 ideas for sun catchers and stained glass crafts.

A fun Invisible Glass Trick experiment.

Using glass, water and sunshine to demonstrate refraction and how to make a rainbow.


This was a harder theme to come up with children’s books or movies. I know it’s a stretch, but how about “Alice Through the Looking Glass”? And for those of you who are children of the ’70s, there’s this flashback: Child of Glass, (If you’re like me, the name might not sound familiar, but as soon as you hear the wind chimes and see the blue floating French girl with the tiny dog (<YouTube link), it’s going to all come rushing back to you. You can read more about it on the Disney site.)

FUN WITH FOOD | Glass art

broken glass Jell-O

This broken glass Jell-O is from justJENN recipes and makes for a colorful and fun-to-make dessert.

I know it’s not Christmas, but you can make stained glass cookies any time of the year. They are so pretty and having the kids smash hard candies is great fun. Here’s a more complicated stained glass cookie recipe, if you’re all fancy, or here’s a simpler one from Kraft if you want to keep your sanity.

Another fun dessert: broken glass Jell-O.

Lastly, here’s an idea for some science with your food. It’s not “glass,” but making colored rock candy is a lot of fun, educational and tasty … and hey, it looks like glass, right? Here are the best directions on how to make rock candy; and here is the best explanation of the science behind the experiment (clicking the different steps triggers a pop-up window that explains the science behind what you’re doing).


Week 7 | July 13 | DINOSAURS

OUTING | Dinosaurs

Visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s “Dinosaurs Alive! The Lost Valley” outdoor exhibit. (Before going, be sure to visit their website to download [or just look at] a dinosaur checklist and Dig & Discover activity booklet.)

Go to The Durham Museum to see A T.Rex Name Sue.

Dinosaur exhibits in Omaha

With skin … without skin … with skin … without skin. See ’em both. (Photo left courtesy of OmahaHa!. Photo on right courtesy of The Durham Museum’s Facebook page.)


Mix-up a batch of salt dough and create fossils. The post uses the dough for making hand and foot prints. For this dinosaur theme, use foot prints from toy dinosaurs, press-in leaves or shells or other found items.

Use the cloud dough from my earlier post and bury shells, bones and toy dinosaurs for a fun dino dig.

An extensive collection of dino facts and printables (including a word search which my eldest is really into right now).

… and more printables.

FUN WITH FOOD | Dinosaurs

Same idea as the salt dough, only use cookie dough and add nuts, raisins and other edibles too your dinosaur tracks.

Here is a collection of 24 dinosaur party food ideas. Remember, you don’t have to have a birthday party. Every day is a party when you make dino-themed food.


Week 8 | July 20 | RAÚL COLÓN

OUTING | Raúl Colón

Just like I enjoy introducing the boys to music in forms they can relate to, I like to introduce them to artwork in a relatable manner. That’s why I selected “Raúl Colón: Tall Tales & Huge Hearts,” currently on exhibit at The Joslyn Art Museum, as a theme. It features art from 15 of his books, “including scenes from myths, fairytales, folktales, and tall tales, and from books based on real-life stories of baseball players, ballerinas, migrant workers, and ministers — inspiring characters all.”

From Doña Flora, illustration by Raúl Colón

From Doña Flora, illustration by Raúl Colón, now on display at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.


How to make a scratchboard.

About the illustrator.

The following activities are based on his book “Jose! Born to Dance: The Story of Jose Limon

Homemade castanets from

How to make your own castanets from

Limon Dance Company videos

Make your own castanets

Learn about Flamenco

Teaching Modern Dance as an activity (this might seem bizarre at first, but read through it — there really is some good stuff in there).

How to make a paper fan

BOOKS | Raúl Colón

Books on by Raúl Colón.

FUN WITH FOOD | Raúl Colón

My boy Alton Brown again with his guacamole recipe.

This sounds kind of involved, but for horchata, it’s worth it.

And one of my favorites, make your own taco night. I use the Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper shredded pork recipe and it is delicious. (Thanks to my friend Jessica for first recommending the recipe.)

David Lebovitz's horchata recipe

Cool and refreshing, this horchata recipe is from David Lebovitz.

Week 9 | July 27 | WATER FUN

OUTINGS | Water Fun

There’s no shortage of ideas for water fun. To shake things up from the typical trip to the pool, check out this list of spraygrounds in Omaha (pack a few plastic toys, cups, sprinkling cans, etc. and the kids can play for hours).


sponge balls from One Charming Party

This sponge balls from One Charming Party are as fun to play with as they are to make.

Have fun making these water sponge balls, then have fun playing with them.

An experiment with coloring plants.

Create a water pistol target range in your backyard.

Use water and assorted containers to make a potion lab.

Here’s that Angry Bird water balloon game again that I mentioned in the earlier Games, Games, Games theme.

This is full of great water-play ideas: water obstacle course.

Talk about some inner-core strength on this activity: sponge brigade game.

A good collection of water experiments.

Last summer, the boys and I also did some fun experiments just mixing certain things with water — sugar, salt, food coloring — and then setting some in the sun and others in the freezer, just to see what happened.


A list of books for kids about water on

Host a movie night with one of these great family movies based on ocean themes.


Nonalcoholic fishbowl drinks

And of course, anything using blue Jell-O (scroll through for a couple of ideas).

Watermelon shark tutorial from Sun Scholars

To learn how to make this watermelon shark, visit Sun Scholars for the tutorial.


Week 10 | August 3 | BALLOONS

OUTING | Balloons

The Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival. Hmmm … should I do an adult weekly theme based on wine?


Watch this episode about kids learning more about hot air balloons — how hot air balloons work, what measurements are taken while in flight, and video of the kids taking an actual hot air balloon ride.

Using balloons to paint — this can get really messy, but isn’t that one of the great things about summer? Outdoor messy crafts and easy clean-up with a hose.

Five experiments to do with balloons.

Hot air balloon experiment.

Make a hot air balloon using a helium balloon, a paper plate, or paper mache.

Project #84: Hot air balloon from Book Hour Craft Projects

Decorating this hot air balloon craft from Bloesem Kids would be lots of creative fun for boys or girls. Sure it’s all pink and fluffy right now, but I can see my boys’ version looking more like a balloon Death Star with Jedi knights attacking it from below.


Do I even need to write this? Movie night with “Up.” *sniff, sniff*

We have this Caldecott Honor book about the history of hot air balloons.

Here is a list of other children’s books about hot air balloons.

FUN WITH FOOD | Balloons

How about some balloon-shaped food as inspiration?

How to make cloud parfaits.

There you have it: 10 weeks worth of … stuff. If you liked this idea, let me know and I’ll be sure to come up with an entire new batch of ideas for summer 2014. Have fun!


  1. Holly says:

    I want to do it ALL. Can I stay with you for the next four weeks (we can skip the splash park)? Seriously. How much of this can we fit into 24 hours?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>