The Intellectual

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Keep 'em Busy: Kidcentric Playtime

The Schiele Museum of Natural History
The planetarium is the star attraction here. Don't miss the Catawba Indian Village, Stone Age Heritage Site, and eighteenth-century Backcountry Farm outdoor exhibits. Annual family membership is $75. 1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, 704-866-6900, schielemuseum.org

Carolina Raptor Center
Visitors can see hawks, owls, and more living along nature trails and in special exhibits. A $50 to $99 membership gets you free admission for a year. 6000 Sample Rd., Huntersville, 704-875-6521, carolinaraptorcenter.org

Pint-Sized Decor: Form & Function

Budding scholars need desks that can take them from kindergarten through Harvard and beyond. Get something timeless at Design Within Reach, where proprietor Jeff Hull says the Nelson Swag Leg Desk ($1,849, pictured) is popular with the Mensa crowd. Designed in 1948 by George Nelson, it's been updated with a slot for computer cables in the back right corner. With orange, yellow, and aqua details, it looks great paired with an orange Molded Plastic Armchair ($249) by two other design geniuses, Charles and Ray Eames. 4310 Sharon Rd., 704-365-6514, dwr.com

Framed Up

Kids start collecting diplomas in preschool these days, so you might as well get familiar with a good frame shop. Binder's Art Supplies and Frames in Cotswold is one of the friendliest in town. A nice ready-made frame for a high school diploma will cost you $20 to $40 and take less than two weeks. 284 S. Sharon Amity Rd., 704-442-2608, bindersart.com

Peanut Butter Bumblebees

Peanut Butter Bumblebees


Party Time: Mad Science

So it's a lot less science and a lot more Nickelodeon. But with Mad Science of Charlotte, $195 gets you the "Da Vinci" package, which allows you to invite up to fifteen little Einsteins for seventy-five minutes of educational fun. A lab-coated Mad Scientist will come to your home and help the kids do their own experiments, such as making green polymer-and-water slime. You're in charge of the food, so think petri dishes, beakers, and test tubes instead of plates and cups. Consider a cake decorated to resemble an erupting volcano or, if you can stomach it, a brain. Designed for ages five to twelve. 810 Tyvola Rd., 704-561-9996, madscience.org

Dressed to: Preppy Chic

Your little Doogie Howser MD will love the classic fashions at Fancy Pants. Grab a Hart Schaffner Marx navy blazer ($98) and Vineyard Vines bow tie ($45) for him, a Vineyard Vines dress in blue seersucker ($80) for her, and they're ready for church, a wedding, or the all-important prep-school interview. Owner Jonni Miller stocks high-quality lines such as Ike Behar, Ralph Lauren, Ella Moss, Splendid, and others, but she wants you to know there's no snobbery here. "I want every parent to feel comfortable walking in the door and knowing we're going to help them find something for their child," she says.

On model: shirt: bella bliss, $36; skirt: Amanda Remembered, $48, both at Fancy Pants; shoes: Naturina, $53, Tootsies Too

Summer must have
Ultra-soft bella bliss pima cotton polos for boys and girls, $30 to $38.

Special features: A baby registry and monogramming. Miller also schedules special events, such as trunk shows, silhouette making, and hand-printing sessions, throughout the year. 1025 Providence Rd., 704-344-0333, fancypantschildren.com

Bumblebees

• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1 egg
• 13/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 8 dozen small pretzel twists
• 8 dozen small pretzel sticks
    
Beat peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, honey and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 350ºF. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (dough will be slightly sticky). For each cookie, place two pretzel twists side by side with the bottoms touching on ungreased cookie sheet (the bottom is the rounded point, similar to the bottom of a heart shape). Place one ball of dough on center; flatten slightly. Break two pretzel sticks in half. Gently press three pretzel stick halves into dough for stripes on bee. Break fourth pretzel piece in half. Poke pieces into one end of dough for antennae.

Repeat with remaining dough and pretzels.

Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool completely.