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Kindness Rocks, kids' cooking classes and more spring fun for Harford families

With spring break around the corner, finding fun activities for the family may be on your to-do list. Harford County has plenty to choose from this season.

1. Decorate #HarCoMDRocks

When Churchville resident Kim Bender noticed the Kindness Rocks movement taking off, she and her friend Jamie Smith wanted a place where Harford County residents to share information and ideas around the project.

“We just love the vision of the Kindness Rocks movement, which is to leave painted rocks with motivational or uplifting words and artwork for people to find and to brighten their day,” says Bender, who launched a local Facebook group with Smith last year.

All it takes to participate is a rock, paint, some imagination and a trip around the corner. Lucky folks who find the rocks can take them home or hide them for another person to find. Some post photos of found and hidden rocks to the Facebook group, which has more than 1,000 members.

The group asks that no rocks be placed inside a place of business or in places where they may cause damage, such as in the path of a lawnmower.

“I like to think that the person who finds them will smile and wonder why it was painted or just enjoy what they found,” Bender says.

Join the Facebook group Harford County (MD) Painted Rocks - #HarCoMDRocks.” Rocks can be purchased in bulk at local hardware stores. Write “#HarCoMDRocks” on the back of your rock to direct its finders to the Facebook page.

2. Get the kids into the kitchen

Kids who love cooking shows have a new place to learn the skills they see on TV.

Young Chefs Academy was slated to open its first Maryland location in Bel Air in February, bringing cooking lessons to children and teens ages 5 to 18.

“We’re looking forward to teaching the joys of cooking to children and giving them the skills and confidence to make their own meals at home,” said Adam Bell, who owns the Bel Air location with his son, Anthony.

The academy teaches students real-life cooking skills and tests them each month with the goal of advancing to a “master chef” program. A “kindercook” class for young children brings parents into the kitchen, too.

“We want them to come in and have a good time for a couple of hours and come out of the class with a skill they can take home,” says Jamie Skinner, director of franchisee operations for the national chain. “Our locations are designed to be based on residential kitchens with the idea that it will bring families back to the kitchen table.”

Young Chefs Academy is located at 130 North Bond St., Suite 101, in Bel Air. Classes cost $35, or $89-$99 for a month of weekly classes. 443-470-8866 or belairmd.youngchefsacademy.com.

3. Head to the theater

The Children’s Film Series at the Cultural Center at the Opera House in Havre de Grace is bringing films back to the big screen for local families.

The series — dubbed “10 films to see before you’re a teen” — started in August and features recently popular films as well as movies that children might not have seen.

“The goal is to communicate to kids the idea that movies are not something to be looked at on a telephone or an iPad,” says Jack Hirschfeld, who volunteers on the opera house’s film committee. “Movies are a community experience on the big screen that are supposed to be inspiring and magical.”

The movies are shown on the third Saturday morning of each month and often include an activity beforehand. Last year, a “Harry Potter”-themed event before the show included photo booths where children could dress in robes and get their picture taken with a wand.

The Children’s Film Series is held at 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Cultural Center at the Opera House, 121 N. Union Ave. in Havre de Grace, with activities before the movie. Next up is Disney’s “Moana” on March 17. Free for children 12 and younger, $5 for ages 13 and up, and $4 for seniors and active military. 443-502-2005 or hdgoperahouse.org.

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