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Hot Wheels line up.


THU 7/17

A long, long time ago, kids were content to roll miniature cars around on the floor. They had no remote controls and didn't shoot rockets, but the little die-cast cars birthed generations of gearheads and NASCAR fans. Today, toy maker Mattel describes its Hot Wheels as a "global lifestyle brand" that extends to video games, DVDs and the Internet. Perhaps in an effort to keep it real, the Hot Wheels 35th Anniversary Exhibit is revisiting its past at the technology-free Toy and Miniature Museum. From its mom-and-pop beginnings to its multinational present, Hot Wheels' life gets laid out like a row of collectible funny cars, without a computer or lifestyle in sight.

The exhibit opens Thursday, July 17; the Toy and Miniature Museum is located at 5235 Oak Street. Call 816-333-2055 for more information.-- Christopher Sebela

Friends or Foes?

FRI 7/18

Some people say spiders are dangerous. Others say they're harmless. Still others continue to sing songs about how spiders are hard workers who scale water spouts despite the rain that invariably washes them back down. And at 8 p.m. Friday night, kids can become Spider Spies at Ernie Miller Nature Center (909 North Highway 7 in Olathe, 913-764-7759). Flashlights in hand, they infiltrate the spiders' "underworld," finding out whether these eight-legged creatures are up to good or evil. When you get to the Ernie Miller Nature Center, follow either of the lighted trails from the parking lot to the outdoor amphitheater, aka the Spider Spies hideout.-- Gina Kaufmann

Nut Art
It's exactly what it sounds like.


When wondering whether your child or niece or brother might enjoy a storytime workshop called Nut Art, one thing you don't have to figure out is what nut art is. It is art wherein the materials are different kinds of nuts. If this strikes you as a curious activity, don't make the same mistake we did, which was to ask for an explanation of precisely what the kids do. "They make little nut people," offers Pete Cowdin, who runs the Reading Reptile with his wife, Debbie Pettid. He also explains that the completed nut people look like characters from the book Miss Hickory, about a doll made of twigs with a hickory nut for a head.

Right before the 11 a.m. Nut Art classes on July 17, 22, 23 and 24, the Reading Reptile also hosts a mask-making class at 10 a.m. The store can be found at 328 West 63rd Street in Brookside. For information, call 816-756-0441.-- Kaufmann

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