School’s out for…

Only a week, never you mind what Alice Cooper says.

But school vacation can seem a lot longer if you have a house full of bored children chanting, “We’ve got nothing to do, we’ve got nothing to do.”

Luckily, Greater Portland seems to gear up for school vacation weeks, so there’s usually a lot of innovative and thought-provoking stuff for families to do.

This means you have no excuse. Don’t just turn on the TV or the video games. Check out all the school vacation activities around southern Maine – from laser shows and bird shows to live theater and dancing – and pick one.

School vacation week is technically next week, April 15-19. But a lot of school systems have Friday off too, so you might want to get an early start with your planning.

To help you find something suitable, we’ve hand-picked the following to give you an idea of what’s going on. But after reading this, do a little exploring on your own, and you’re bound to find even more things to make the vacation week fly by.


If you’re a laser show fan, you don’t want to miss Laser Mania 2013 at the University of Southern Maine’s Southworth Planetarium in Portland.

And don’t worry, it’s not easy to miss. Laser Mania consists of 10 days of laser shows, sometimes up to five shows a day. These laser light extravaganzas range from shows about the constellations to rollicking music-based shows.

The latter include “Fright Light,” which includes Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; “Hypnotica,” a show set to techno tunes; “Laser Magic,” based on a selection of music ranging from Yanni to Weird Al Yankovic; “Laseropolis,” featuring high-energy music from the B-52s and others; “Laser Retro,” with a focus on ’80s pop bands such as Duran Duran and The Police; and “Laser Vinyl,” with a focus on harder-edged retro-rock bands such as AC/DC, Aerosmith and Van Halen.

For a complete list of shows and times, go to the planetarium’s website below.

Laser Mania 2013. Various times, Friday through April 21. Southworth Planetarium, University of Southern Maine, 70 Falmouth St., Portland. $5.50, plus $1 for 3-D glasses.


Aimed at youngters, but cool for grown-ups too. That’s the lowdown on Gustafer Yellowgold, a storybook character who comes to life in a variety of groovy ways during live performances.

Illustrator and musician Morgan Taylor developed the character to be the focal point of a “musical moving book.” The show is a cross between a rock concert and an animated story following Gustafer, who hails from the sun, as he explores the Minnesota woods. But this week, he’ll be doing it before a Saturday-morning crowd at Space Gallery.

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Rock Melon Tour. 11 a.m. Saturday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. $8.


Libraries are always crucial parts of the community, but during a school vacation week, they become even more so. Many libraries schedule free, fun activities to keep kids busy.

The thing about libraries is, there’s one in just about every town, so you can find one near you. And again, they’re free. So check out your local library’s website to see what it may be planning.

For an example of what a library might do during school vacation week, check out these events at Baxter Memorial Library in Gorham: An assortment of board games will be on hand for “Game Day” on Wednesday afternoon; “Pet Rock Day” on Thursday afternoon invites people to decorate their own pet rocks; and the Lego Club on Saturday morning is for anyone who loves Legos. And of course, who doesn’t?

Vacation week activities. Baxter Memorial Library, 71 South St., Gorham. Free. 222-1190;


Are you so old that when you watch kids dance, you think they’ve got a horrible rash and can’t scratch the right spot? Well, maybe you need to bring your family out to a dance where you can do a little “do-si-do” and the like.

Such a place is the Old Time Family Dance, presented monthly by Children’s Music of Bath Brunswick at Bath Dance Works. It’s having one on the Friday of school vacation week, April 19, with fiddles blazing. The focus is on learning simple country dances.

Old Time Family Dance. 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 19. Bath Dance Works, 72 Front St. $3. 522-3900; email [email protected]


Looking for a play the kids will like? Looking for a play where kids can actually play after the play?

Head to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine in Portland, where performances of “Country Mouse and the Missing Lunch Mystery” are running Friday through April 21.

In a twist on one of Aesop’s classic fables, it’s Country Mouse’s turn to serve lunch to his city cousin.

But the food keeps disappearing, and soon the characters have a mystery on their hands.

You can just go see the play for $9. Or for a $15 ticket, you can see the play and then hang around and play at the museum.

“Country Mouse and the Missing Lunch Mystery.” Various show times, Friday through April 21. Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, 142 Free St., Portland. $9; $15 for both theater and museum admission. 828-1234;


Spring is in the air, and the birds are finally back. So what better way to celebrate spring and school vacation by seeing some live birds presented by the folks at Maine Audubon in Falmouth?

People will get to examine the birds up close while learning about their lives, food and more. Your children will be able to go back to school and tell their classmates they saw a live falcon or two.

Spring Live Bird Show. 10 a.m. April 19. Maine Audubon, Gilsland Farm, 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth. $15; $10 for children; $10 and $5 for members. 781-2330;

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

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