Plan your October with books, spooks and pumpkins

October is upon us. That means heading to pumpkin patches, celebrating Halloween and Day of the Dead. It also means enjoying music and great weather outside.

Barton Hill Farms in Bastrop is open for pumpkin plucking. Barton Hill Farms


Domain Northside Kids. Come to the lawn at the Domain Northside for activities for kids 18 months to 6 years old. This month’s theme: Bewitched. Free. 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 3. Reservations required.

Starry Nights. See a star show in the mini-planetarium and see how the Ancient Greeks saw the universe. 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 4 Free. Girlstart. 1400 W. Anderson Lane.

Roots & Wings Festival. A combined celebration of Arbor Day and Monarch Appreciation Day. Come in costume or create one there. Visit the butterfly release station, climb a tree, make crafts and more. Free with admission. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 27. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road.

Family Hasya Laughter Yoga. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 27. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road. Free with RSVP to

Round Rock Premium Outlets opens new Texas-themed play area. Celebrate with music, activities, self-station and more. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6. 4401 N. Interstate 35, Round Rock.

Fall festivals

Robinson Family Farm Pumpkin Patch. Walk through a corn maze, go on a hay ride, pet the goats and pick a pumpkin. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 4. Free, but pay for each activities and pumpkins, or get a $10 wristband for everything. 3780 White Owl Lane, Temple.

Barton Hill Farms. Corn maze, farm animals and more than 30 activities, plus pumpkin-picking. 10 a.m.-7 pm. Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 4. $15.95, extra for pumpkins and face painting. 1115 FM 969, Bastrop.

Sweet Berry Farm. Hay rides, corn mazes, pick-your-own-pumpkin patches and more. 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 4. Pay per activity. 1801 FM 1980, ​Marble Falls.

Evergreen Farms Pumpkin Hunt. Chuck a pumpkin, race with a pumpkin, take a train ride, go golfing, jump in the bounce house and pick a pumpkin. Activities $2.50-$5 each. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Evergreen Farms, 242 Monkey Road,

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm Fall Fun. Mazes, animals, pumpkin decorating, train ride, hay ride and more. $8 admission. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday. Oct. 5-31. Pumpkin Festival Oct. 13-14, Oct. 20-21. Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, 120 Natures Way, Elgin.

Vida La Vida Festival and Parade. Celebrate Día de lost Muertos with this parade and festival around Mexic-Arte Museum. Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 27. 419 Congress Ave.

Halloween Carnival and Haunted House. 25-cent game tickets, $1 haunted house, plus a costume contest with prizes and trunk-or-treating. 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 18. Metz Recreation Center, 2407 Canterbury St.

Austin Code Spooktacular Bash. Games, face painting, costume contest, bounce house, spooky house exhibit. 4:30-7 p.m. Oct. 25. Free. Fiesta Gardens Building, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.

Pumpkin Carving on the Dock. Play games, carve pumpkins, compete in a costume contest. 11 a.m. Oct. 27. George Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.

Howl-O-Scream. Games, treats and a haunted house. 10 free tickets or $3 for unlimited tickets. 5-7 p.m. Oct. 27. Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Road; Givens Recreation Center, 3811 E. 12th St.; Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane; Turner-Roberts Recreation Center, 7201 Colony Loop Drive.

Boo at the Zoo. Dress up and enjoy the zoo with Halloween-themed activities. 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in October. $17.50. Reserve tickets early. Austin Zoo, 10808 Rawhide Trail.

Spooktacular at the Bullock Museum will offer Halloween activities. Bullock Museum


Mexic-Arte Museum. Family Day with the artist collective, Kuniklo. Make decorative masks and alebrije caterpillars with recycled materials. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 21. 419 Congress Ave.

First Saturdays at the Carver Museum. Enjoy family events. Free. Noon Oct. 6. Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.

Bullock Museum. H-E-B Free First Sunday. Free family fun around westward expansion. Noon Oct. 7. Living History Days. Re-enactors stroll through the museum. 10 a.m. Oct. 4. Homeschool Day. 10 a.m. Oct. 11. Little Texans: Gallop. 10 a.m. Oct. 11. Science Thursdays. 10 a.m. Oct. 189. Story time: Halloween. 10 a.m. Oct. 25. Spooktacular. Come dress for Halloween activities. 5 p.m. Oct. 26. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for kids age birth to 3 learn about Fall on the Farm this month., 9 a.m. Monday and Saturdays, except Oct. 8. $5. Art Start: Nature as our Canvas workshop. 9:45 a.m. for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. for 2-year-olds and 11:45 a.m. for 3-year-olds, Wednesdays, through Oct. 24. $20 per class. Namaste & Play: Get into Shapes. 9:45 a.m. for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. for 2-year-olds and 11:45 a.m. for 3-year-olds, Fridays, through Oct. 26. $20 per class. Silly Science. Play with bubbles, foam and more. 9:30 a.m. 1-year-olds, 10:30 a.m. 2-year-olds, 11:30 a.m. 3-year-olds, Sept. 3. $20. Whisks & Wizards workshop for ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 6-8, Oct. 20-21. $8. Spark Shop Scribble Bots for ages 4 and up. Learn to use a robot to draw. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 13-14, Oct. 27-28. $6 for a kit. Community Night Spotlight: Disabilities Awareness. Explore the tools and technologies that empower people of all disabilities. 4-8 p.m. Oct. 17. Free. Sensory Friendly Hours. 8-10 a.m. Oct. 14. Family Night: Halloween Hootenanny. Play at night with a Halloween theme. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 26. $15-$13. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Neill-Cochran House Museum. History Lab: Paint a Landscape Scene. Go outside with your paints and paintbrushes. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 14. Free. 2310 San Gabriel St.

Contemporary Austin. Families Create: Branching Out. Make art with botanical supplies and learn about trees with Tree Folks. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 13. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St.

Science Mill. Kooky Spooky Chemistry Day. Learn about chemistry with a Halloween theme. Kids in costume get a free Halloween excavation kit. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 27. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Straw Fest. Pumpkin-carving, petting zoo, zombie makeovers and more. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 28. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Azie Morton Road.

Wildflower Center. Movies in the Wild: “Coco.” See the movie outside. $12-$8, free for kids younger than 4. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 31. Fire & Water Walk. See how fire and water are used to maintain the garden. 10 a.m. Oct. 25. Free. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Drop-in Dance Class. 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Baby Play Date. 1 p.m. Tuesdays. Music Class with Miss Ariel. 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays. $10. Theater Class for Littles. 10:30 a.m. Fridays. $10. CD Release Party with Miss Ariel. 5-7 p.m. Oct. 6. Free. Date Night Child Care. 5 p.m. Saturdays. $25, $10 extra sibling. Make a Halloween Ghost. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 18. $7. Halloween Slime Day. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20. $10. Nappy Time Halloween Portraits. 10:15 a.m. Oct. 27. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

The Williamson Museum. Hands on History. Make a music craft. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13. The Williamson Museum, 716 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown.

“Beetlejuice” is at the Alamo Drafthouse.


That’s My Face: Youth and Young Adult Film Series: “Birth of a Movement.” Free. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12. Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.

Movie on the Lawn: “Monster House.” Free. 8 p.m. Oct. 19. Northwest Recreation Center, 2913 Northland Drive.

Alamo Drafthouse events. “Little Shop of Horrors” Movie Party. 4 p.m. Oct. 7, Lakeline. 1 p.m. Oct. 6, Mueller. 4:15 p.m. Oct. 7, Slaughter Lane. “Beetlejuice” Party. 7 p.m. Oct. 21, Lakeline. Alamo for All, sensory-friendly screening “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” 1:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Lakeline, Noon and 2:50 p.m. Oct. 2, Mueller, Noon Oct. 2, Slaughter Lane and 2:50 p.m. Oct. 3, Mueller. “Small Foot.” 1:15 p.m. Oct. 2, Lakeline, 11:05 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Oct. 2, Slaughter Lane.

“Tortoise and the Hare” musical is at Zach Theatre. Kirk Tuck


“Tortoise and Hare” at Zach Theatre. The Aesop fable becomes a musical for ages 5 and up. 2 p.m. Oct. 20-21, Oct. 27-28. $18-$24. Kleburg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive.

Pollyanna Theatre presents “The Mystery of the Green Teeth Ghost.” 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Oct. 1, Oct. 4-5, 2 p.m. Oct. 6-7. $10.50 and up. The Long Center, 701 Riverside Drive.

Emily Ann Theatre presents “Little Red Riding Hood.” See this classic children’s tale on stage. $10-$8. 10 a.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 21.1101 Ranch Road 2325, Wimberley.

“Rosita y Conchita.” See this bilingual Día de los Muertos play about two sisters who try to reunite. $8-$12. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Oct. 6-7, Oct. 14, Oct. 20-21, Oct. 27-28. 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St.

“Tomás and the Library Lady.” Paramount Theatre is working with Mexic-Arte Museum for the kick-off of its Discovery Series for the year. 2 p.m. Oct. 21, show, preceded by crafts from Mexic-Arte Museum and followed by family day at Mexic-Arte Museum. Paramount Theatre, $18-$10. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

“The Ugly Duckling.” Ballet Austin II presents this show for ages 3-10. 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Oct. 20-21, Oct. 27-28. $15. AustinVentures StudioTheater, 501 W. Third St.

Austin Symphony’s Halloween concert brings out the spooky sounds. Austin Symphony Orchestra


Halloween Concert. Hear Halloween-themed music from the Austin Symphony. $10-$15. 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 28. Austin ISD Performing Arts Center, 1925 E. 51st St.

Austin Kiddie Limits. Hear kids’ music, build things, make art and dance. Free for kids 10 and younger with parent with a wristband. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 5-7, Oct. 12-14. Zilker Park.

Head to the children’s tent of the Texas Book Festival. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Texas Teen Book Festival. See some of your favorite young adult authors. Free. 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 6. St. Edward’s University.

Texas Book Festival. Hear from children’s authors, middle-grade and young adult authors at this free festival. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 28. Capitol Building and the grounds.

BookPeople events: Girl Scout CEO Sylvia Acevedo reads “Path to the Stars,” 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1. Erin Hunter reads “Bravelands No. 3: Blood and Bone,” 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3. Tillie Walden reads “On a Sunbeam,” 7 p.m. Oct. 4. Property Brothers read, “Builder Brothers: Big Plans,” 4 p.m. Oct. 7. Kwame Alexander reads “Swing,” 7 p.m. Oct. 8. Don Zolidis reads “The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig,” 2 p.m. Oct. 14. Spooky Story Celebration, Oct. 20. Jon Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser read “Grow Grateful,” 2 p.m. Oct. 20. Kids Book Club with Austin Allies, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 20. Marit Weisenberg reads “Select Few,” 7 p.m. Oct. 23. Dylan Thuras reads “Atlas Obscura for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid,” 6 p.m. Oct. 24. Mark Falkin reads “The Late Bloomer,” 7 p.m. Oct. 30. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday story times. Best Friends Forever, Oct. 2. Favorite Characters, Oct. 3. Illustrator Spotlight, Oct. 6. Brand New Books, Oct. 9; Susan Kralovansky, Oct. 13. Monsters Are Our Friends, Oct. 20. Pets are the Best, Oct. 23. Great Outdoors, Oct. 24. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble Events: Kids’ Book Hangout. 2 p.m. Oct. 20, Round Rock; 11 a.m. Saturdays story times at all locations: “Builder Brothers: Big Plans,” Oct. 6; “I Lost My Tooth!,” Oct. 13; “Featuring Elbow Grease,” Oct. 20.

Little Seedlings Story Time: Korea. Learn about Korea while making a paper fan and hearing a story. 10 a.m. Oct. 19. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road.

At the library

Crafternoon. 3 p.m. Mondays, Southeast Branch. 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Ruiz Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 11, Twin Oaks Branch. 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15, Carver Branch.

Literature Live presents “Tales from Graves.” 3:30 p.m Oct. 1, Spicewood Springs Branch. 1 p.m. Oct. 3, Ruiz Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 5, Ruiz Branch. 6:30 pm. Oct. 8, Central Library. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10, Willie Mae Kirk Branch. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, Old Quarry Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 25, North Village Branch. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 26, Yarborough Branch. 4 p.m. Oct. 30, Little Walnut Creek Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 31, University Hills Branch.

Lego Lab. 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1, Carver Branch. 3 p.m. Oct. 3, Southeast Branch. 4 p.m. Oct. 5, North Village Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 9, Twin Oaks Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 10, Spicewood Springs Branch. 4 p.m. Oct. 10, Howson Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 16 Milwood Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 16, Pleasant Hill Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 16, Ruiz Branch. 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Yarborough Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 24, Willie Mae Kirk Branch.

Pajama Story Time. 6 p.m. Mondays, University Hills Branch. 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Central Library. 6 p.m. Oct. 2, Yarborough Branch. 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, St. John Branch. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10, St. John Branch. 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Manchaca Road Branch. 6 p.m. Oct. 15, Milwood Branch. 6 p.m. Oct. 25, Spicewood Branch. 6 p.m. Oct 25, North Village Branch.

College Planning Workshop: Award Winning Essays. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1, Howson Branch. Studying film, music and more. 11 a.m. Oct. 13, Willie Mae Kirk Branch.

Book Circle. 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Twin Oaks Branch.

Science Fun. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Pleasant Hill Branch.

Rubik’s Cubing Club for ages 8-18. 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Central Library.

Healthy Bodies for Healthy Kids. 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Central Library.

Family Board Game Night. 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Central Library.

Board with Books. 6 p.m. Oct. 2, Central Library.

Story time and Movement with Ballet Austin. (Reservation Required). 1 p.m. Wednesdays Central Library.

Bow Wow Reading with Roo the Dog. 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Little Walnut Creek Branch. With Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, Yarborough Branch. With Daisy the Dog. 11:15 a.m. Oct. 25, Ruiz Branch.

Music & Movement. 10:15 a.m. Thursdays, Carver Branch. 11 a.m. Thursdays, Howson Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 5, Old Quarry Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 8, Pleasant Hill Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 9, Spicewood Springs Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 23, Ruiz Branch.

Thursday Night Teen Writers Room. 6 p.m. Thursdays, Central Library.

Friday Movie Matinee: “The Lego Batman Movie.” 3:30 p.m. Oct. 5, Ruiz Branch. “Goosebumps.” 3:30 p.m. Oct. 12, Carver Branch. “Coco.” 3:30 p.m. Oct. 12, Old Quarry Branch.

Dia de los Muertos. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4, Manchaca Road Branch. 11 a.m. Oct. 6, Twin Oaks Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 9, Milwood Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 15, Howson Branch. 10:15 a.m. Oct. 16, Carver Branch. 4 p.m. Oct. 18, Little Walnut Creek Branch. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 24, St. John Branch. 10:15 a.m. Oct. 25, Cepeda Branch. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 26, Central Library. 11 a.m. Oct. 29, University Hills Branch.

Homeschool Social. 11:15 a.m. Oct. 10, Carver Branch.

NBTween Graphic Novel Club “Four Points.” 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10, St. John Branch. “Newsprints.” 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10, St. John Branch. “Posted.” 6 p.m. Oct. 18, Twin Oaks Branch. “She Loves You.” 6 p.m. Oct. 18, Spicewood Springs Branch. “The Time Museum.” 4:30 p.m. Oct. 24, St. John Branch.

Thursday Matinee: “Hotel Transylvania 2.” 1 p.m. Oct. 11; “Ghostbusters.” 1 p.m. Oct. 18; “Boo 2.” 1 p.m. Oct. 25, Terrazas Branch.

Family Craft Night. 7 p.m. Oct. 11, St. John Branch.

Animanga Club. 3:30 p.m. Fridays Ruiz Branch.

Robotics Beginners Class: Ages 5-8. 4 p.m. Oct. 12, North Village Branch.

Sewing After Dark. 5 p.m. Oct. 12, Central Library.

Southeast Branch 20th Anniversary and Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. 5 p.m. Oct. 12, Southeast Branch.

Saturday Cinema: “Coco.” 2 p.m. Oct. 13, Southeast Branch.

Halloween Costume Total Reuse Event. 1 p.m. Oct. 13, Recycled Reads Bookstore.

Austin Ukestra Ukulele Group. 1 p.m. Oct. 14, Recycled Reads Book Store.

Teen Book Club: “Alanna.” 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16, Howson Branch.

Walking on Sunshine Early Literacy Sing-along Adventure. 10:30 a.m. Oct. 17, Oct. 24, Oct. 31, Central Library.

Platform Nine and Teen Quarters Harry Potter Meetup. 2 p.m. Oct. 21, Central Library.

Maker Night Halloween Mini Die-o-rams. 7 p.m. Oct. 23, Twin Oaks Branch.

Mother Daughter Book Club “The Shadow Cipher.” 6 p.m. Oct. 24, Pleasant Hill Branch.

Tween and Teen Anime Club. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26, Twin Oaks Branch.

Saturday Crafts. 11 a.m. Oct. 27, Milwood Branch.

Night Crafters. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29, Central Library.

Halloween Party Literacy Costume Bash. 7 p.m. Oct. 31, Milwood Branch.

Keep the kids busy in Austin this last weekend of September, Sept. 28-30

Looking for fun this weekend? We’ve got a great list for you from the new Fortlandia at the Wildflower Center to American Indian Heritage Day at the Bullock Museum. Keep in mind, it might rain on Saturday and Sunday. (There’s a 40 percent chance right now.)

Nan Blassingame performs the fancy shawl dance during American Indian Heritage Day performances at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in 2014. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Namaste & Play: Get Into Shapes. 9:45 a.m. for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. for 2-year-olds and 11:45 a.m. for 3-year-olds, Friday. $20 per class. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Parents’ Night Out, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday. Kids must be 4 or older and potty-trained. $45 first child, $25 each additional sibling. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Bullock Museum.  American Indian Heritage Day. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for school groups, 6-8 p.m. for the public, Friday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Chair Massage while the Littles Play. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday. $1 a minute. Theatre classes. 10:30 a.m. Fridays. $10. Date Night Child Care. 5-8 p.m. Friday. $25-$10. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

Early Literacy Playgroup. 10:15 a.m. Friday, Pleasant Hill Branch.

Tween and Teen Anime Club. 3:30 p.m. Friday, Twin Oaks Branch.


“Tortoise and Hare” at Zach Theatre. The Aesop fable becomes a musical for ages 5 and older. 2 p.m. Saturday. 6:30 p.m. Friday. $18-$24. Kleburg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive.

“Tortoise and the Hare” musical is at Zach Theatre. Kirk Tuck


Sweet Berry Farm. Hay rides, corn mazes, pick your own pumpkins and more. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 4. Pay per activity. 1801 FM 1980, ​Marble Falls.

Pollyanna Theatre presents “The Mystery of the Green Teeth Ghost.” 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sept. Saturday and Sunday. $10.50 and up. The Long Center, 701 Riverside Drive.

“The Mystery of the Green Teeth Ghost” from Pollyanna Theatre Company is at the Long Center.


Science Mill. Girl Scout Badge Day. Do activities and earn a badge based on your program level. Saturday. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

Wildflower Center. Nature Creations: Bracelets. Make bracelets using things from nature. 10 a.m. Saturday. Free. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for kids age birth to 3. Learn about Color this month. 9 a.m. Saturdays. $5.  Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

The voice of Channing Tatum in “Smallfoot.” CONTRIBUTED

Alamo Drafthouse events. “Small Foot” Family Party. 10 a.m. Saturday, Slaughter Lane.

BookPeople story times. Let’s Get Moving. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble Events: 11 a.m. Saturday story time at all locations: “I Am Neil Armstrong.”

Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Yarborough Branch.

Read It, Sing it, Let Us Hear It Open Mic! 1 p.m. Saturday, Carver Branch.

Barton Hill Farms in Bastrop is open for pumpkin plucking. Barton Hill Farms


Wildflower Center. Fortlandia Grand Opening Weekend. Step inside forts from University of Texas students and Austin architects in the Texas Arboretum. Saturday-Sunday. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Emily Ann Theatre presents “Little Red Riding Hood.” See this classic children’s tale on stage. $10-$8. 10 a.m. Saturdays starting Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays. 1101 RM 2325, Wimberley.

Robinson Family Farm Pumpkin Patch. Wander through a corn maze, go on a hay ride, pet the goats and pick a pumpkin. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 4. Free, but pay for each activity and pumpkins, or get a $10 wristband for everything. 3780 White Owl Lane, Temple.

Barton Hill Farms. Corn maze, farm animals and more than 30 activities, plus pumpkin picking. 10 a.m. to 7 pm. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, beginning Saturday through Nov. 4. $15.95, extra for pumpkins and face painting. 1115 FM 969, Bastrop.

Slime Time workshop for ages 4 and older. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

You can karaoke at the Barrell O’ Fun as a family on Sunday. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Bring the Sing: Family Karaoke. 1-4 p.m. Sept. 30. Barrel O’ Fun, inside the Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, 1911 Aldrich St. Suite 120. Free.

Teen driver deaths, injury rates on the rise, American Academy of Pediatrics says

Parents of teen drivers, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some not-so good news for you.

After the number of crash-related teen deaths have be cut by about 50 percent in the last decade, those numbers are on the rise in the 2014-2016 years. Our teens still are more likely to be involved in a car accident that causes injury or death than any other age group in the United States.


Student driver Morgan Stewart takes her third test drive with driving instructor Zane Bush,left.. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN 2013

Teen drivers with less than 18 months experience have a four-times higher risk for being involved in crash or “near-crash event.” The report listed reasons such as speed, inexperience, distractions, teen passengers, use of alcohol, drugs and medication.

If your child isn’t yet driving, but is riding with a teen who is, consider that more than half of the children age 8 to 17 who die in car crashes are driven by a driver younger than 20.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is advising its pediatricians to talk about these things with their teen patients (and parents, you can do some of this. too):

  • Counsel teens on seat belt use and the risks of driving while impaired by alcohol, illicit substances and medication.
  • Encourage parents to practice driving with their teenagers in a variety of environments and for more than the state-required minimum of hours.
  • Promote the use of safe alternative routes to school to lessen driving time.
  • Support later school start times to ensure teens have adequate sleep.
  • Study whether the graduated driver’s licensing provisions should be expanded to include novice drivers who are 18 or 19 years old.


How to keep kids safe online, on social media

Parents probably were horrified at the news of Cody Wilson, designer of the 3-D printed gun, being accused and arrested for sexual assault after meeting a 16-year-old girl online.

What can parents do to make sure their children don’t become targets on social media or websites?

In the Raising Austin column, we’ve featured many experts in parenting or internet safety. Here are their tips:

Create a digital contract with your kids. You can get one for free for the whole family at During that contract process parents would go over all the rules and restrictions for what is good behavior online.

Are your kids always on their phone? Create some phone-free zones. Bryan Thomas/The New York Times 2015

Know what social media accounts your children are using and monitor them. One of those big rules is that kids can only have accounts that parents know about. “About 60 percent are unaware of the accounts teens have created,” says Toni Schmidt, the social media manager for Net Nanny.

Don’t rely on monitoring software to do your job for you. “The more walls we build, the more we are just creating little hackers who are just trying to get around the fence,” says Devorah Heitner, founder of the website Raising Digital Natives and the book “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.” Instead, be curious, engage in conversation about their online and social media use.

Devorah Heitner wrote “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.”

Mentor your children on the appropriate use of screens. Heitner offers this list of questions to ask your children:

  • Do they know people they are playing online games with? If not, you might want to set up a private server in games like Mindcraft to only invite real people they know.
  • Are they involved in group texts? Remind them that everyone is on those texts and can get hurt.
  • Are friends sharing texts with other friends about other friends? Remind them to not engage in that behavior and call it out when they see them.
  • Are they looking for validation based on the number of likes and comments on posts?
  • What will happen if they lose their phone, tablet or computer? How will they reimburse you?
  • Do they understand that digital money is real money? Do you have a plan on what permission they will need and how they can pay for their online purchases?
  • What will cause them to lose their phone, tablet or computer?
  • Make sure they know it’s OK to not respond to texts and social media posts right away. They don’t need to be connected all the time.
  • Invite them to ask you when they have a question. Google is wonderful, but it might provide information they might not understand or might be overwhelming to them.
  • Talk through different situations: What will you do if you see something inappropriate on your phone? What will you do if you feel a friend is not behaving well online? What will you do if a friend doesn’t understand that you can’t respond right away?
Psychologist Mike Brooks is the director of the of the Apa Center,

Be a role model of phone and computer use. Austin psychologists Mike Brooks and Jon Lasser wrote “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World.” Kids often complain as much about their parents’ use of technology as parents complain about their kids’. Think of it like healthy eating, Brooks says. We can’t force them to eat healthier foods, but if we model eating healthfully, they might do it.

Set limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ media use policy recommends these guidelines:

  • Children younger than 18 months of age: Avoid the use of any screen media except video chatting (with grandparents, for example).
  • Children ages 18 months to 24 months: Introduce high-quality programs or apps, but do it with your children to create a dialog about what they are seeing and how it relates to the world around them.
  • Children ages 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programs that you view with your children.
  • Children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media and make sure that the use of media does not take the place of sleeping, exercise and other healthy behaviors.

Build up the parent-child relationship to prevent conflict and dangerous online use. Brooks and Lasser’s No. 1 recommendation is for parents to spend more time with their kids without technology. “The more time we spend with kids in that capacity, it feeds that part of their soul that is going to be happy, healthy, and they will have that in them that is it’s valuable to be in relationship,” Brooks says.

Dr. Leonard Sax wrote “Girls on the Edge” and “Boys Adrift.”

Have family meals at home and make that a top priority. “You have to communicate that our time together as a parent and child is more important than anything else,” says family physician, psychologist and author Leondard Sax, who wrote “The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt our Kids when We Treat them Like Grown-Ups.”

Take screens out of the bedroom. This includes cellphones, computers, TVs, video games. Kids are chronically sleep deprived, which leads to poor behavior and can even be the reason why kids are getting mental health diagnoses, Sax says.

Put screens in public places and limit how they are used. Even though, they might still be sneaking and text to their friends PWOMS (Parent Watching Over Shoulder) or some other acronym, they are less likely to be doing something unsafe if you could be walking by.

Remind them that what they post online stays forever. Those middle-school photos will follow them to their first job interview. Remind them of the permanent legal consequences of sending or receiving photos that could be considered child pornography. Kids can be charged with distributing child pornography even if they didn’t take the photo. And if a parent shows it to another parent or a teacher or principal, they’ve just distributed child pornography, says Bob Lotter, creator of My Mobile Watchdog, a monitoring app. They can only show it to law enforcement, Lotter says.

Make sure kids engage with real people they know. Their online friends can quickly become more important than the friends they see in person.

Determine if they are really ready to have a cellphone. An Austin group, launched the nationwide movement Wait Until 8th to encourage parents to take a pledge to not give their kids a smartphone before eighth grade.

The National Consumers League says parents should ask these questions when shopping for a phone for their child, specifically in those tween years:

  • Why does your child need a cellphone?
  • Will the phone be used primarily to stay in touch with parents or for emergency use? Or will your child be using the phone for entertainment or to communicate with friends?
  • How much do you want to spend per month on service?
  • How much do you want to spend on the initial purchase of the phone itself?
  • Is your tween mature enough to keep her minutes, texting and data use within plan limits?
  • Is your tween mature enough to use the phone responsibly and avoid viewing or sending inappropriate content?
  • What is your tween’s school’s policy on cellphones in school?
  • Does your tween have a habit of losing things, or can he handle the responsibility of caring for a phone?

How to plan your estate when you have a child with special needs

Estate planning. It’s not something parents really want to do. You have to face your own mortality, and the fear that you might not live long enough for your children to become adults.

For parents who have kids with special needs, they know their kids might outlive them and need a support system to handle everything from finances to personal care.

Last summer Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas hosted a seminar for its parents with Justin Blumoff, a trust and estate attorney from Sharpe & Associates. Estate planning for families with someone with special needs does have some of the same elements as families with neurotypical children. You still need to think about these things:

  • A will
  • A living trust
  • Medical power of attorney
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Advance healthcare directive
  • HIPAA authorization

“One of the misconceptions is that (having a kid with special needs) really changes everything,” Blumoff says. “”It really doesn’t.”

One thing is different: Parents of children with special needs do have to take care that their estate plan doesn’t disqualify their child from receiving government assistance like Social Security disability, Blumoff says.

Blumoff helps families set up a special needs trust that includes language that will allow the children still to get assistance.

“If you use a traditional plan, you may disqualify them,” he says. Housing is a particular concern as far as who inherits a house and what money can go toward the person’s housing.

Jon and Connolly Lees and their children Breda, 4, and Henry, 6, now have an estate plan in place. Breda has Down syndrome. Lees family

When Blumoff meets with families, he asks them to think about their assets as well as what the needs will be now and in the future. Sometimes that means having a person who is the guardian and a different person that has the fiduciary responsibilities. Blumoff does recommend contacting whomever you choose to make sure they are willing to take on these responsibilities. Some families even write a letter to the people they name in the trust to pass on more information. Often that letter is “This is how we live our life and these are the people we want them to have contact with,” he says. “Some people go through it and are very focused on investments; some people do pages and pages of pouring out their love.”

Often, when estate planning with families Blumoff will have an initial 10 minute phone call.

He’ll ask families to consider who would be the first person they would call other than a spouse for medical decisions, who would be the first person other than a spouse for financial decisions? Who would they generally want to take care of their children?

After families make those decisions, they’ll have a 30 minute to an hour meeting to go through it with Blumoff, then schedule a time to come back and sign the documents. Families can expect to spend $2,000 to $4,000 based on the complexity, Blumoff says.

“It seems a lot more overwhelming than in reality,” he says. Often people will tell him, they have been meaning to do it for 10 years, but then they thank him with how easy it was.

“Planning for special needs families is not a complete wipe of the board and do something different, it’s include a few extra provisions.” It took Blumoff two years to get to doing his own estate planning.

Once you’ve gone through the process, you should revisit it every three to five years, Blumoff says. He keeps a watch on legislation and how it might change the wording that might need to be included the documents.

Jon Lees and his wife Connolly did their planning for their children Henry, 6, who is neurotypical, and Breda, 4, who has Down syndrome. They had to consider what would happen now if something were to happen to them as well as in the future and what role Henry might play eventually in Breda’s life. They set it up the document with provisions in place to grow with the children as they age, but Lees also learned a lot about revisiting it as the children age and Henry is given more control.

“We want to do everything we can that when we’re gone, she’s going to have a team of family members to care for her and help make decisions alongside of her, but also centered around her needs and happiness,” Jon Lees says. “We’re thinking of that for our typically developing son as well,” he says.

Special Needs Family Jamboree

Casey’s Circle is planning this free event with more than 20 organizations coming to inform families about available resources.

10 a.m. to noon Saturday

Play for All Abilities Park, 151 N. A.W. Grimes Blvd., Round Rock.

Register at to attend

Property Brothers return to Austin … this time with a kids’ book

Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott will be heading back to Austin in October. This time, though, it’s not to shoot an episode of their HGTV show “Property Brothers.”

The Property Brothers Drew, left and Jonathan Scott, sit in an Austin home on Shoal Creek Boulevard that they remodeled for the show in 2012. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2012

Instead, they’ll be at BookPeople at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 to read “Builder Brothers: Big Plans.” ($17.99, Harper Collins) To attend, you have to purchase a voucher, which is good for admission for four people and a copy of the book, which you can get signed. Buy your vouchers for $17.99 at or at the store.

The Property Brothers have a new children’s book “Builder Brothers: Big Plans.”

The picture book is about two brothers (who happen to have the same name as the Brothers) who want to build something big. Will it be a castle? A tree house? Or the ultimate dog house for their two dogs?

The book also comes with a guide to a do-it-yourself birdhouse parents and kids can do together.

RELATED: The Property Brothers talk about transforming an Austin home

Next week, we’ll be talking to the Brothers about the book and what their up to.

Celebrate Minecraft and more family fun for the weekend, Sept. 14-16

Minefaire is in town. For all you parents of Minecraft players, you might have been alerted to this convention happening at the Austin Convention Center.

Minecraft has its own convention called Minefaire, which is in town this weekend.

If your kids aren’t into that or you’ve said, “No” to going, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Austin this weekend. Check the weather (It’s going to rain all weekend) before you go.


Namaste & Play: Get Into Shapes. 9:45 a.m. for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. for 2-year-olds and 11:45 a.m. for 3-year-olds, Fridays. $20 per class.Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Wednesday and Friday. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Animanga Club. 3:30 p.m. Friday, Carver Branch. 3:30 p.m. Friday, Ruiz Branch.

Sewing after Dark for Teens. 5 p.m. Friday, Central Library.


Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for kids age birth to 3 learn about color this month., 9 a.m. Monday and Saturdays. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

BookPeople. 10:30 a.m. Saturday story time. Lazy Morning, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Flix Jr. Flix offers $2 children’s movies.“Sing.” 11 a.m. Saturday. 2200 S. Interstate 35, Suite B1, Round Rock.

Barnes & Noble Events: 11 a.m. Saturday story time at all locations: “Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody.” Check out the website for future story times.

Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Yarborough Branch.

Batman Day. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Little Walnut Creek Branch.


Minefaire. The largest convention for a single video game is in Austin on Saturday and Sunday. $49-$69.50, but kids younger than 2 are free. Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.

Slime Time workshop for ages 4 and older. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

“Tortoise and Hare” at Zach Theatre. The Aesop fable becomes a musical for ages 5 and older. 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $18-$24. Kleburg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive.

Alamo Drafthouse. PBS Kids at the Alamo: “Odd Squad.” 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Lakeline and Slaughter Lane.

Is your child in the right car seat? New guidelines to check

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its guidelines on car seats in one pretty significant way.

Instead of children being in rear-facing seats until they turn 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that children stay in rear-facing seats as long as possible until they meet the upper number for that seat’s height or weight limits. That means that most children will outgrow that rear-facing seat anywhere from age 2 to age 5, but there could be some kids who are older than age 5 who are still in rear-facing seats because of their size.

Why make the change?

It’s all based on analysis of trauma data from car crashes, which is the No. 1 cause of death for children age 4 and older.

Children who were in rear-facing car seats had fewer injuries and a decreased chance of death than kids in forward-facing car seats.

Why is that? Kristen Hullum, a nurse and trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, says that it’s all about avoiding head, neck and spine injuries. Young children have immature spines and necks and are also head-heavy, she says. The rear-facing seats prevent more movement of the head, neck and spine than forward-facing ones.

“My 5 year old is petite,” Hullum says. “I still have her rear-facing. That might have seemed pretty conservative to many people, but this justifies it,” she says of the new recommendations.

Get your car seat professional installed and inspected each time you get a new one. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Here is the progression of where and in what your child should sit in the car:

  1. Rear-facing infant carrier in the back seat (or convertible rear-facing car seat if it’s weight range is low enough for an infant) until the child outgrows the height or weight limit for that carrier, which is typically anywhere from 22 pounds to 35 pounds. For infant carriers, that usually happens around age 1, but it could be later.
  2. Rear-facing car seat in the back seat until the child outgrows the height or weight limit for that seat. That could happen any time from age 2 to 5 or even later depending on the upper limits for that seat, which can be 40 to 50 pounds or even more.
  3. Forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat until the child outgrows the upper height and weight limit, which could be anywhere from 65 to 90 pounds. The forward-facing seat should be tethered to the car.
  4. A booster seat in the back seat that raises the child up so that the car’s seat belt fits the child properly until the child is 4 foot 9 inches tall and outgrows the upper limits for that booster, usually around 100 pounds. That could happen anytime between age 8 and age 12. It’s Texas law that children younger than 8 ride in a booster seat or car seat.
  5. In the back seat using the car’s seat belt once they have reached the upper limit of the booster seat’s height and weight limits until age 13.
  6. In the front seat, only after age 13, but also tall enough and heavy enough to not be injured by the air bag. That’s at least 4 foot 9 inches and 100 pounds. Even though it’s hard for preteens to want to be in the back seat, it’s about safety. Airbags inflate at 200 miles an hour, Hullum says.” If that air bag hits them in their face, there’s a significant brain injury,” she says. “The air bag should be at somebody’s chest.”
Kristen Hullum, trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, teaches a class to teachers. American-Statesman 2017

There are other recommendations and guidelines that parents should know.

  • Get your child seat professionally installed each time you get a new one. Hospitals and county Emergency Medical Services offer car seat checks that you can sign up to attend.
  • When picking a car seat, the most expensive one is not necessarily the best one. They all have to pass the same federal guidelines. It’s more of a question of which one has the fanciest cup holders.
  • If you can’t afford a car seat, your pediatrician or any car seat check location should be able tell you how to get a free one.
  • Car seats do have expiration dates that are usually between six and 10 years. They wear out with use.
  • Once a car seat has been in an accident, it is no longer safe to use. Car insurance companies will reimburse you for the cost of the new one.
  • Unless you know the complete history of that car seat, do not buy or receive a used one.
  • If you have a truck that only has a front-seat, you can install a car seat in the passenger seat, but you have to make sure the air bag is turned off.
  • Rear-facing car seats could be a problem for toddlers and preschoolers who get motion sickness. If that’s the case, talk to your pediatrician about what medications or techniques they recommend.

For parents who might be thinking that their 5-year-old is never going to see the world around her if she’s still in a rear-facing seat, Hullum says, not to worry. Her 5-year-old can easily remind her if she’s passed a Chic-Fil-A.

Car seat checks

9-11 a.m. Sept. 7, Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4900 Mueller Blvd.

9 a.m. Sept. 10, CommUnity Care Clinic, 211 Comal St.

9 a.m.-noon, Sept. 13,  Williamson County Emergency Medical Services, 1781 E. Old Settler Blvd, Round Rock

2-5 p.m. Sept. 13, Elgin Fire Station, 111 N. Avenue C, Elgin

9-11 a.m. Sept. 17, H-E-B Mueller, 1801 E. 51 St.

9 a.m. Sept. 19, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane

9 a.m.-noon Sept. 29, St. David’s Emergency Center, 601 St. David’s Loop, Leander. Free car seats will be available at this event.

9 A.M. Oct. 2, Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive

9-11 a.m. Oct. 5, Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4900 Mueller Blvd.

9 a.m. Oct. 9, CommUnity Care Clinic, 211 Comal St.

9 a.m.-noon, Oct. 11, Williamson County Emergency Medical Services, 1781 E. Old Settler Blvd., Round Rock

9-11 a.m. Oct. 15, H-E-B Mueller, 1801 E. 51 St.

9 a.m. Oct. 17, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane

Call 512-943-1264 to register for an appointment with St. David’s or Williamson County EMS. Call 512-324-8687 to register for an appointment in Elgin, Dell Children’s Medical Center or H-E-B. Call 512-972-7233 for CommUnity Care Clinic and recreation centers.

Enter to win tickets to ‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’

Want to take the kids to see Jack Black and Cate Blanchett and the world of “The House with a Clock in its Walls”? I’ve got five sets of a family four pack of tickets to a 7 p.m Sept. 18 screening at Regal Gateway.

Jack Black in “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” (Amblin Entertainment)

Enter to win by emailing me at with your name and phone number by Sept. 13. Put “House with Clock” in the subject line. I’ll notify winners on Sept. 14.

The movie is based on a book about 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in an old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart.

The best place to raise a family? Not Austin. We’re not that fun

OK, Wallet Hub. This one you got wrong. Austin was named 33rd in Wallet Hub’s list for the Best Places to Raise a Family. Why so low?

Get this: It ranked us 106 in family fun. What? It couldn’t find our parks? Our children’s museum or the many other museums with family programming? Our family theater companies? Our at least one festival every weekend that is for families? Or recreation center offerings?

Luke Keyes, of Austin Oddities was on hand to help kids and grown-ups in the art of super large bubble making much to the delight of his ever growing audience The Contemporary offers free family fun on the second Saturday of the month. .RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

We could understand if it knocked us for affordability or access to health care, but family fun? You don’t know Austin, Wallet Hub.

By the way, in affordability, it ranked us 21. What? It ranked us 74 in health and safety, and 97 in socioeconomic issues. In education and child care it ranked us 36th.

So where does Wallet Hub think is the best place to raise a family?

  1. Overland Park, Kan.
  2. Irvine, Calif.
  3. Fremont, Calif.
  4. South Burlington, Vt.
  5. Bismarck, N.D.
  6. Plano
  7. Fargo, N.D.
  8. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  9. Huntington Beach, Calif.
  10. Gilbert, Ariz.

I’d like to see you move to South Dakota, North Dakota or Kansas and enjoy the family fun there, Wallet Hub.