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There is just a short amount of time left on the spring calendar, and I am seriously anticipating summer. The Elementary Education MAT program does have summer classes, but right now I am happily pretending that I have nothing more to do this summer than attend farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and concerts in the park. I often suspect that the reason so many interesting things happen in Chicago over the summer is because it’s the city’s way of offering their apologies for how cold and awful the winter was. Anyway, if you’re new to the city and are excited to explore, here are my tips for what to do. Likely there will be some inspired education ideas in here too, because that’s what I do, folks. It’s what I do! :)
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First off, I can’t speak highly enough of the multitude of craft fairs and art shows that happen in Chicago over the summer. If you’re looking for specifics, I highly recommend the Bucktown Arts Festival and the Renegade Craft Fair. Both of these shows try to bring in unique artists with a wide variety of items. The prices are usually pretty fair at these shows too.The photo above is of 16 Sparrows, who create beautiful stationary for their letter writing society. And for just a couple bucks, you can become a member of their letter writing society and find yourself a pen pal! I imagine when I have my own classroom that I’ll likely be buying my students letter writing badges, paper, and stickers from 16 Sparrows.
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It’s likely that even if you’re new in town someone has suggested to you that you visit Millennium Park… and I highly agree with this sentiment. Their free summer concerts are typically the best the city has to offer. Just make sure to get there early, so you can find a spot to sit and enjoy the show. If you don’t like the crowds but still want to visit the park, look for the secret garden. There are rows upon rows of pine trees that seem to cut off a large portion of the park, but when you find the entrance you’ll be rewarded with fields of wild flowers and a man made river. It’s amazing and beautiful and don’t tell anyone about it!
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If you’re from a smaller town and you miss the old school carnivals of your youth, then I’d highly recommend you check out the Boys and Girls Club of America Carnival on the North Side. The carnival is hidden from the main streets by a ton of houses, so it’s both hard to find and seemingly magical in appearance. They bring in all the terrifying old school roller coasters that can be set up and taken down in one day, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But the Boys and Girls Club is a great cause, so you can feel good knowing all of the money you spend at the Midway is going to classes for kids!
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My final recommendation for anyone new to the city is to make sure you go out and explore all of the varying neighborhoods that make Chicago great. There is a lot to do wherever you decide to live, but that can easily keep you from discovering your future favorite bar, bookshop, or coffee house. There is also a wealth of culture that can be very inspiring for projects. Whenever I’m looking for inspiration for an arts project, I head to Wicker Park to look at the graffiti. If I’m looking to be inspired by nature, I head to the lakefront path around Addison Avenue, where you can find a nature preserve. This city has a lot to offer. I seriously can’t wait for summer to begin!
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