By Michelle Lewis

Great Gifts for Kids, Chapel Hill-Style!

By Michelle Lewis Posted December 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

If you are looking for a great last minute gift for a kid or family, you have come to the right place!   
 
My three favorite gift recommendations are: (1) a Carolina Kids Club membership ($35 per kid); (2) a Morehead Planetarium and Science Center family membership ($70 per family; buy it before December 31st and get $10 off); and (3) a Kidzu Children’s Museum family membership ($75 per family). These memberships are the kind of gifts “that keep giving” throughout the year. And they are a terrific value for the money. If this sounds good to you, keep reading.
 
Carolina Kids Club Membership
 
My children have been members of the Carolina Kids Club for many years and they absolutely love it. My husband and I do too.
 
The Kids Club organizes fun pre-game (and sometimes post-game) events at select UNC athletic games throughout the year. At each event the Kids Club usually provides the kids with a lunch or snack, a gift (e.g., poster, stuffed mini-Ramses, mini basketball hoop), and an opportunity to meet the players and get autographs. It is a fun way to spend a couple hours and a great way for kids to learn about different collegiate sports. 
 
I know what you are wondering, “What about UNC Men’s Basketball?” Well, guess what? The Kids Club hosts an annual event at which the kids (and the parents) get to watch the team practice and then the kids are allowed onto the floor of the Dean Dome to collect autographs from the players. You can imagine how exciting this is for the kids (and, yes, for us Carolina Blue parents watching our kids talk to Tyler H., Ty, Marcus, Harrison, Tyler Z., etc. . . .Yep, you can tell from the names I’ve listed that our family has been going for years.)
 
For those kids who want to get down on the floor of the Dean Dome or Carmichael during a game, the Carolina Kids Club has that too! Each year the Kids Club offers opportunities for kids to become “Kid Photographers” or a “Ball Boys/Girls” at UNC basketball games. The kids are selected by lottery. Our son, Chase, won the opportunity to be the Kid Photographer a for the women’s game against NC State a few years ago. He had a blast! 
 
If you think the Carolina Kids Club would be great for a kid you know, you can purchase a membership on-line at http://www.tarheelblue.com/carolinakidsclub/.
 
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
 
Another really great gift idea is a membership to UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. A family membership entitles family members unlimited free admission to planetarium shows, Science 360 programs, Science Live demonstrations, and interactive exhibits. 
 
You probably are wondering whether there is enough going on at the Morehead to warrant monthly visits. The answer is, unequivocally, “Yes.” In addition to its nine planetarium shows, the Morehead also offers 15 Science 360 programs, three Science Live presentations, bimonthly “Meet a Scientist” programs, and “Family Science” days. All the offerings are excellent, but my kids are particularly fond of the “live” presentations, such as “Meet a Scientist” (my son’s favorite was the particle physicist), Science Live (my kids laugh so much in these demonstrations that you would think they are comedies), and Family Science days. 
 
In addition to free admission to the regular programs, a Morehead membership provides discounts on fees for special classes and programs – like the Middle School Science Club, Storytime Science, and Morehead Summer Camp. The membership also comes with parking vouchers, guest passes for free admission, and admission discounts at more than 300 science museums across the country. Our family has used our Morehead membership to for free admission to many museums around the country. Morehead memberships can be purchased on-line at http://www.moreheadplanetarium.org.
 
Kidzu Children’s Museum
 
Kidzu Children’s Museum is an all-time favorite for local kids, particularly two to six year olds. Kids love that you can touch and play with everything in the “museum.” Kidzu is truly interactive learning at its best.
 
Some of the favorite exhibits are the kitchen, the café, the construction zone, and the ball drop. Don’t forget to bring your camera! You will take a lot of photos, guaranteed – because who can resist their 3-year-old in a yellow hard hat or maybe their 5-year-old in an apron, busy at work in the kitchen and serving meals at the “café”?
 
Kids also enjoy Kidzu’s arts and crafts space, along with the constant supply of interesting educational programming activities. Children love this place! You could visit Kidzu every week and still feel like your child is learning something new or creating something different every week.
 
For more information, or to purchase a membership, go to: http://www.kidzuchildrensmuseum.org/supportthemuseum/memberships
 
Well, I know I’ve presented you with a hard choice – get the Carolina Kid’s Club membership, the Morehead membership, or the Kidzu Children’s Museum membership? Whichever one you choose will be a winner, guaranteed. Happy Holidays!
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