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Sandpit of Dreams 

There's no place like Queeny Park

Back in the day, there was no question as to St. Louis' best playground: Queeny Park. The large playground at 550 Weidman Road still has a huge concrete structure crisscrossed by a web of tunnels for kids to crawl and run through, poles and extra-wide multiple-person slides to slide down and pyramids of railroad ties and pitted stone inclines to scamper up. It takes a long time to explore the entire playground, because this jungle gym of odd materials offers strange challenges over a vast pit of sand. As summer approaches, more and more parents are watching their kids attack the Edgar M. Queeny Play Center (its official name; 636-391-0900), built at a cost of $100,000 back in 1974 (when the Post-Dispatch called the state-of-the-art facility "the ultraplayground"). The playground has changed a bit since then, but it's still a real treat for kids and free to all. Now, if they'd only bring back that moving-pulley zip-slide called the Eagle's Swoop ... -- Byron Kerman

Kickin' It Very Old-School
Batteries not required

SAT 5/10

If your kids are whining about not having PlayStation 2, maybe it's time to show them what passed for fun 200 years ago. The Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site (107 Elm Street in Cahokia, Illinois, off Highway 57 and Route 3, 618-332-1782) is holding a Colonial Kids Day with old-fashioned games, craft activities and period puppet shows. Parents are sure to love the looks on their kids' little faces when they find out the old hoop-and-stick game didn't come with a dual-shock controller or a pause button. Admission is free, because who can put a price on time spent with kids who aren't in front of a TV? -- Paul Friswold

Meet the Beetles

Beetles are the hardcore punk-rockers of the insect world. With their shiny black carapaces and fantastic spiky mandibles, they look kinda like the dudes in Rancid. They even have tough-guy names such as "dogbane" and "yellow stag," which are punker than some legitimate punk names (such as Travis, for example). Beetles finally get the recognition they deserve this month at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Faust Park (15193 Olive Boulevard, 636-530-0076; $4-$5). Taking center stage in the Butterfly House's Spectacular Spineless Series, beetles and their role in the ecosystem are examined through games and hands-on activities. Of course there will be live appearances by many varieties of beetles, all of whom will be too surly to answer questions or sign autographs: How punk is that? Don't worry, the entomologist/handlers will field all queries. No one in the venue may look Dogbane in the eye. -- Paul Friswold

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