Importance of Multicultural Classrooms


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Back to school means back to the basics, and in North Carolina classrooms today, this means more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. Schools across the state increasingly recognize the importance of a multicultural education, with teachers educating students about our global society. Parent-teacher associations also involve parents in the process, and families are bringing home the lessons of diversity and inclusion.

Carnette Debella, a teacher who heads up the multicultural fair at Pearsontown Elementary in Durham, believes multiculturalism is an important component of a well-rounded education. "A student's knowledge base is increased by learning about different cultures," she says, citing lessons in world geography and history, national flags and languages.

Debella also says current events and international disasters can teach kids about other societies — from government and economics to family structure and housing. Through studying disasters, such as the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti and famines in Africa, children's minds are open to lend a helping hand when others are in need. "If our young people have been taught about different cultures, as adults they will be more willing to help in times of need," Debella says.

Nurturing open minds

Gilmara Johnson, an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher at University Meadows Elementary in Charlotte, believes strongly that multiculturalism is a valuable part of education. "Cultural content helps (students) review their preconceptions about a certain culture and hopefully treat everyone the same," she says.

Johnson says teachers should be aware of the nationalities represented in their classrooms to share knowledge and to prevent misunderstandings that may arise from language barriers or the expression of varying customs. In her classroom, new students are encouraged to present information about their home countries to their classmates. Johnson also frequently incorporates activities about her own home country — Brazil — into her lesson preparations.

"I usually make a compare-and-contrast activity, especially about holidays and monthly events," she explains. "I also have a world map on the wall and the name of each student on an index card with a thread linking to the country where the student comes from."

Technology enables children today to live in a global society, where they can view and communicate instantaneously with others around the world, says Roanne Ornelles, director of diversity at Summit School in Winston-Salem. "However, children cannot truly understand, appreciate and communicate with others unless they have experienced the culture in an authentic way," she says.

Parents understand the importance of multiculturalism, too. Tuyet Huynh, a Raleigh parent of three children, appreciates that her kids were exposed to different cultures at an early age. She says she feels her children, as a result, will grow into open-minded citizens who will more easily work and live within a global society.

Celebrating diversity

As students move beyond high school and college into the workplace, they will enter jobs that require not only critical thinking skills, but also acceptance of others' differences, since corporate offices, retail centers and manufacturing plants are hubs of people from all over the world. To translate academic achievement into a successful career, today's children need to graduate with a different set of skills than their parents.

"Students who learn to accept others of different cultures will have success in the diverse workforce they will find themselves in as adults," Huynh says. "They'll be open-minded, productive team players."

Beyond English, math and science, Ornelles says children must also learn "adaptability, effective communication, problem-solving and collaborative working skills for them to work well with others."

School communities that foster acceptance and inclusion among families are paving the way for the next generation of doers and leaders.

Providence Day School in Charlotte held a Global Day last fall, which was an outreach event from the school's Global Studies Diploma program. More than 600 faculty, staff, students, families and community members attended. Every region of the globe was represented, with exhibits featuring indigenous crafts, regional cuisine and facts addressing issues ranging from poverty and disease to economic development.

"The children really enjoyed learning about the cultures of some of their friends and experiencing some of their traditions," says Lisa Sicard, a Providence Day parent. "They particularly enjoyed watching the Indian dancing, playing backgammon in the Middle Eastern tent and trying out some fencing moves."

Many schools hold similar events. At the Pearsontown Elementary Multicultural Fair in Durham, children share art they create based on their impressions of the countries they study. Members of the community also are invited to participate.

"This year we had Chuck Davis and his famous African Dance Ensemble," Debella explains. "Previously, we had representatives from a local Turkish Cultural Center."

At Cary's Davis Drive Elementary, the PTA supports the cultural arts program, which offers performances that expose students to different cultures and forms of arts, such as the Liang Chinese acrobatic show.

Frank Porter Graham Elementary in Chapel Hill holds family focus nights in an effort to strengthen the school's connections with minority families. During Latino Family Night and African-American Family Night, families are invited to bring foods that reflect their cultures.

"Each event offers brief presentations by the staff and the community regarding opportunities available for families and children," says Susan Pegg, interim principal at the school. "The main goal is to reach out and say, 'We are here for you and your children. Please let us know how we can help.'"

Taking global awareness home

Whatever the format of a school's multicultural efforts, one of the ultimate goals is to encourage further exploration at home and within the community.

Scouting organizations provide excellent opportunities for students to gain a global awareness. Cassie McGowin, a Fort Mill, S.C., mom of twins, says Girl Scouts World Thinking Day promotes girls and their families getting together to learn about traditions in other countries.

Families can watch cultural programs on television, visit museums, and attend local festivals that celebrate cultures from around the globe, like the area Latino festivals this month. (See our Calendar Highlights page for more information.

Ornelles says the best way for parents to teach children to empathize with others is to model acceptance through their own interactions with others. "It is absolutely true that children learn by what respected adults do as much as by what they say," she says.

Lee Rhodes is a freelance writer in Waxhaw.

Diversity Increasing in the Triangle

More school-age children in the Triangle, or their parents, are from another country compared to the state as a whole. Of children ages 6-17, 6 percent in the Triangle are foreign-born compared with 3.5 percent in the state as a whole.

In the Triangle, in that same age group, 19 percent of children had at least one foreign-born parent, as compared with 13.5 percent in North Carolina.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Durham and Raleigh-Cary metro areas for Triangle populations

Wake County Public School System demographics reports show that diversity has increased in the state's largest school system during the last 20-plus years. The percentages of Asian, Hispanic or Latino, and multiracial students have increased significantly while the populations of white and black/African-American students have decreased.

Below are statistics that show growth for various race/ethnicity groups between 1987-1988 and 2009-2010.

American Indian/Alaska Native
1987-1988: 0.2 percent
2009-2010: 0.3 percent

Asian/Pacific Islander
1987-1988: 2.1 percent
2009-2010: 6.1 percent

Black/African-American
1987-1988: 26.7 percent
2009-2010: 25.9 percent

Hispanic/Latino
1987-1988: 0.5 percent
2009-2010: 11.8 percent

Multiracial
1987-1988: 0 percent
2009-2010: 4.8 percent

White
1987-1988: 70.5 percent
2009-2010: 51.1 percent

Source: Wake County Public School System

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August 2017

Kids can enjoy a free cookie with any purchase, and enjoy kid's books, chess, tic tac toe, and card games. 

Cost: Free

Where:
41 North Coffee Company
41 N. Main St.
Wendell, NC  27591
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Unplug, slow down and have fun on the Triangle’s Train. At 12 miles per hour, families ride through natural beauty over a trestle and through scenic woods. All ages. Purchase tickets...

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New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
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New Hope Valley Railway
3917 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

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PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Learn about these fascinating critters and meet a live snake and turtle. All ages. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

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PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

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Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Explore the five senses in nature. Make a smelly painting and splash in our sink/float bucket. Ages 18 mos-3 yrs with adult. Register online.

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Learn about water. Playing a water cycle game and take part in a water recycling relay race. Ages 6–13. Meet at the Beech Shelter Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
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Toddlers enjoy a story.

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Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

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Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Join others for an easy-paced walk along the greenway accompanied by a naturalist. Registration encouraged. Choose course #203546.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Learn about their habitat, adaptations and life cycle through hands-on activities and games.  All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Ages 5-12 learn about healthy fruits and vegetables, kitchen and food safety, and enjoy a healthy snack. Meet in the bakery side of the cafe. Email sherry.thrasher@wholefoods.com to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Telephone: 919-354-0350
Contact Name: Sherry Thrasher

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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
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Ages 3-6 enjoy fun games and drills. Call to RSVP.  

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Fitness4Life
6701 Glenwood Ave.
Suite 103
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Fitness4Life
Telephone: 919-787-2250
Contact Name: George Whitten
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Enjoy a story.

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Barnes & Noble Cary
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Telephone: 919-467-3866
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Games and activities feature nature's essential element. Ages 2 and older with adult. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Big Field
Barbour Dr.
Raleigh, NC
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Read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and discover caterpillars' favorite foods. Learn the life cycle of butterflies and make a caterpillar necklace. Ages 3-5 with adult. Register online.

Cost: $4/child

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Learn to fish. Instruction and bait provided. Participants 16 and older must have a valid N.C. fishing license. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the boat rental dock. Registration...

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Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Explore the ways you can plan ahead for the heat and care for yourself while outdoors on hot days. Explore how wildlife deals with the heat. All ages. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Make music with FIT4MOM Chapel Hill and Erica Berry, Director of Jammin Baby. Enjoy songs and rhymes, movement activities, and instrument play.

Cost: Free

Where:
Southern Village Green
400 Market St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Parent and child explore the gardens together to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Ages 3-5. Program begins at the Bobby G. Wilder...

Cost: $5/nonmembers. Free for members

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Parent and child explore the gardens together to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Ages 3-5. Program begins at the Bobby G. Wilder...

Cost: $5/nonmembers. Free for members

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

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Preschoolers enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Ste. 855
Durham, NC  27713
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Telephone: 919-806-1930
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Hear a few of tales about corn, learn corn facts, and make a corny craft to take home. All ages with adult. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Preschoolers enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27616
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Telephone: 919-806-1930
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Discover wildlife, their habits and their habitats through hikes, activities and crafts. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Kids explore nature, play games and make a craft. Dress to get dirty. Ages 5-10. Register online. Choose course #203560.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Play super-sized classic favorites, become a mini golf master, build and drop parachutes off a treehouse, design your own gamepiece and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25/family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Marketing
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Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Play nature games, observe nocturnal animals, and roast s'mores around the campfire. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Infants-age 6 enjoy storytime featuring books related to a particular social justice theme. Stories are paired with an activity and music. May: Differently Abled People; June: Women...

Cost: Free

Where:
302 West Main Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Social Justice Storytime
Telephone: 919-714-3377
Contact Name: Jessica Hulick
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Enjoy a fun-filled family day with interactive activities, train rides, DJ, face painting and giveaways

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd.
Durham, NC  27701
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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Do you feel intimidated by sergers? Join us for this relaxed hands-on class and learn the basics of home overlock sewing machines (AKA sergers) including thread operation and what to do if the...

Cost: $30 (tuition + materials)

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 191-921-31278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
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Discover what's happening in the forest as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives works, exploring the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives, and see what a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
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Take part in an all-day block party and community festival on Hillsborough Street. The rain-or-shine event, features more than 325 booths and dozens of departments, student organizations and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hillsborough Street
2011 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Sponsor: Live it Up! Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation
Contact Name: Lara Bannister
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Find out more about the coderschool's programs and discounts. If you're ready to jump in, we'll be offering two free coding workshops for a Back-2-School event, so sign up below...

Cost: Free

Where:
thecoderschool - Cary
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool - Cary
Telephone: 919-234-5193
Contact Name: Nidhi Joshi
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Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Telephone: 919-962-0522
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Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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See Raleigh native Tift Merrit and friends perform and enjoy food trucks, family play and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $29-$39. Free for ages 5 and younger; ticket required.

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2016-17 Education Guide offers 643 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.