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Group Free

Through December 4
The Little Red Hen
This fun sing-along show shares a valuable message about cooperation as a hen looks for help to turn wheat into bread. W-F, 10 a.m.; Sa, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. $10, adults; $7, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050.

Through December 18
Elf the Musical Jr.
The true spirit of Christmas shines in this hilarious tale about a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Call for times. $13-$15. Desert Stages Theatre, 4720 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale,, 480-483-1664.

Through December 23
The Velveteen Rabbit
This heartwarming tale focuses on the strength and power of a young boy’s imagination and the transformative power of love. F-Sa, 7:30 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. $22-$28. Desert Stages Theatre, 4720 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale,, 480-483-1664.

Through December 31
Javelina Holiday
Three little javelinas are filled with Christmas cheer as Childsplay presents A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday. The bristly creatures get more than they bargained for, however, when a holiday surprise doesn’t turn out exactly as planned thanks to a devious coyote. Call for times and ticket prices. Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe,, 480-921-5700.

Through January 6
The Polar Express
Passengers enjoy a train trip from Williams to the “North Pole,” with a special reading of The Polar Express, hot chocolate and cookies, and a visit from Santa. Call for times and ticket prices. Grand Canyon Railway, 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams,, 888-848-3511.
December 1-11

Best Christmas Pageant Ever
A couple struggling to put on a Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids – probably the most inventively awful kids in history. Mayhem and fun collide when the Herdmans meet the Christmas story head-on. Call for times and ticket prices. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa,, 480-756-3828.

December 1-31
Arizona Science Center       
Designed to inspire, educate and entertain people of all ages, the center boasts four levels of hands-on exhibits, plus live demonstrations, a state-of-the-art planetarium and giant-screen IMAX theater. Alien Worlds and Androids – which tackles the question that has fascinated man for centuries: “Are we alone?” – continues through Jan. 16. Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call for admission prices. 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix,, 602-716-2000.   

December 1-31
Children’s Museum of Phoenix       
Focusing on learning through play, the museum offers hands-on, interactive exhibits designed for children from birth to age 10, with an emphasis on early childhood education and school readiness. Tu-Su, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $11. 215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix,, 602-253-0501.    

December 1-31
i.d.e.a. Museum
Interactive activities are a hallmark of this facility, which is designed to inspire children of all ages to experience their world differently through art, creativity and imagination, with an emphasis on science and technology. It’s a Dog’s Life, through Jan. 22, focuses on the art, science, history and social relationships of domestic dogs and their wild canine cousins. Tu-Sa, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Su, noon-4 p.m. $8. 150 W. Pepper Pl., Mesa,, 480-644-2468.

December 2-18
Junie B. Jones
The first-graders in Room One are gearing up for a celebration filled with holiday hijinks in Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! The hilarious and endearing tale is based on the best-selling book series by Barbara Park. Call for times and ticket prices. Fountain Hills Theater, 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills,, 480-837-9661.

December 2-18
Spotlight Youth Theatre
An outlaw family – whose kids lie, steal, swear and smoke cigars – invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual holiday show in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Call for times and ticket prices. Spotlight Youth Theatre, 10620 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale,, 602-843-8318.

December 2-23
Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the gang from the snow-covered Hundred Acre Wood celebrate sharing and caring in A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail. Call for times and ticket prices. Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N. First St., Phoenix,, 602-253-8188.

December 3
Archaeology for Kids
Children ages 7 to 12 discover the science of archaeology by doing a simulated excavation of a Hohokam pit house. Participants learn how to identify artifacts in the field, and discover how archaeologists use these artifacts to learn more about past cultures. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $15. Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix,, 602-495-0901.

December 3, 10 (FREE)
Photos with Santa
Children enjoy a make-and-take ornament activity and a photo with Santa that includes a keepsake print. Guests are encouraged to bring canned food, hygiene items and diapers to benefit Harvest Compassion Center. 11 a.m-3 p.m. Free. Scottsdale Promenade near Nordstrom Rack and Michaels, 16427 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale,

December 7-24
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Santa sends his elves to help the hardworking shoemaker and his wife in this charming holiday-themed version of the traditional tale. W-F, 10 a.m.; Sa, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. $10, adults; $7, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050. The Dec. 18 performance is followed by a Christmas party featuring craft and puppet-making activities, games and a visit from Santa; $15-$20; reservations required.

December 8-18
Musical Theatre of Anthem
The hilarious Elf the Musical Jr. follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. Call for times. $19, adults; $16, students, seniors and children 12 and younger. Musical Theatre of Anthem, 42323 N. Vision Way, Anthem,, 623-336-6001.
December 9

PJ Party with Santa (FREE)
Guests are invited to put on their pajamas and enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, crafts and visits with Santa. Lighted gingerbread stilt walkers, balloon artists, face painters and fire jugglers add to the festivities. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free; donations of food, toys and household items to benefit Ryan House are encouraged. Park West, 9744 W. Northern Ave., Peoria,, 623-877-9771.

December 9-18
Annie Jr. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, a Depression-era orphan charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Greasepaint Youtheatre presents the classic musical, which features such memorable scores as “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.” Call for times and ticket prices. Stagebrush Theatre, 7020 E. Second St., Scottsdale,, 480-330-5918.

December 27-January 22
A beautiful girl, a wicked stepfamily, a fairy godmother, a handsome prince and transparent footwear add up to true love, lots of laughs and happily ever after in this popular version of the famous fairy tale. W-F, 10 a.m.; Sa, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. $10, adults; $7, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050.

December 31
Noon Year’s Eve
This family-friendly event features a play area with 20 tons of snow, music, dancing, activities and a cider toast at noon. 9 a.m.-noon. Included with regular zoo admission. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix,, 602-286-3800.