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Through December 2
The Giver
Discover what it means to grow up, grow wise and take control of your own destiny as this drama focuses on the dangers of creating a Utopian society that is devoid of real pain and joy. Call for times. $13-$19. Musical Theatre of Anthem, 42201 N. 41st Dr., Anthem,, 623-336-6001.

Through December 2
Little Red Riding Hood
The Big Bad Wolf is up to no good – and Little Red Riding Hood is in trouble – in this traditional tale full of music, fun and excitement. Call for times. $12, adults; $8, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050.

Through December 16
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 – in this hilarious production. East Valley Children’s Theatre: through Dec. 9, Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa,, 480-644-6500; and Spotlight Youth Theatre: through Dec. 16, 10620 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale,, 602-843-8318. Call for times and ticket prices.

Through December 23
A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail
Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest of the gang from the snow-covered Hundred Acre Wood help Eeyore find his lost tail in this holiday adventure about sharing, caring, friendship and joy. Call for times and ticket prices. Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N. First St., Phoenix,, 602-253-8188.

Through December 30
Elf the Musical Jr.
A young orphan mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole in this modern-day holiday classic. Call for times and ticket prices. Phoenix Theatre, 1825 N. Central Ave., Phoenix,, 602-254-2151.

Through January 5
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. 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. departures. $33-$79. Grand Canyon Railway, 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams,, 888-848-3511.

December 1
Fire Engine Rides
Children who donate a new unwrapped gift for Scottsdale Fire’s annual holiday toy drive can ride for free in a fire engine. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Target, 15444 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-312-1817.

December 1
Kids Can Build
Taking a few lessons from the Hohokam, children learn how to build homes, villages and waterways using a variety of products, both prehistoric and modern, and conduct science experiments on what materials will work best in the desert climate and why. Kids also can make their own prehistoric bricks to take home. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $15. Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix,, 602-495-0901.

December 1
MaxInMotion Clinics (FREE)
Children ages 4-18 with physical and intellectual disabilities are introduced to power soccer and wheelchair hockey in these adaptive sports clinics. Lunch is included, plus an opportunity to try out specialty wheelchairs and equipment used in competition. Registration is required. 10 a.m. (soccer) and 12:30 p.m. (hockey). Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, 5031 E. Washington St., Phoenix,, 602-386-4566.

December 1, 8 (FREE)
Photos with Santa
Children enjoy holiday music by Bach to Rock, a make-and-take ornament activity and a photo with Santa that includes a keepsake print with donation of canned foods, boxed meals, hygiene items or diapers to benefit Harvest Compassion Center. Noon-3 p.m. Scottsdale Promenade near Nordstrom Rack, 16427 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale,

December 1-31
Arizona Science Center
Guests are invited to climb, slide and explore the galaxy at the Cosmic Playground experience, through Jan. 13, a unique all-ages play space made almost entirely of household packing tape. 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 creative, 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
Far Out: Our Solar System, through Jan. 20, provides an artistic exploration of our planets and their moons, as well as comets, asteroids and minor planets that inhabit our solar system. Tu-Sa, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Su, noon-4 p.m. $8. 150 W. Pepper Pl., Mesa,, 480-644-4332.

December 2
Thomas the Tank Engine
Children can join Thomas & Friends on a singalong adventure focusing on teamwork, friendship and discovery. Live shows and meet-and-greets take place at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m., with “The Really Useful Engine” available for photos approximately 15 minutes after each show. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $5. OdySea in the Desert, 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale,, 480-951-2100.

December 5-23
The Night Before Christmas
Stories, music and an amazing array of puppets highlight this joyful celebration of Christmas. W-F, 10 a.m.; Sa, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. $12, adults; $8, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050. The Dec. 16th afternoon production is followed by puppet-making activities, snacks and a visit from Santa. Reservations are required; call for ticket prices.

December 6-9
Charlie Brown
The lovable Peanuts characters come to life on stage in this revised version of the lighthearted 1967 classic, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, which follows the adventures of Charlie Brown on a typically challenging day. Call for times. $13-$19. Musical Theatre of Anthem, 42201 N. 41st Dr., Anthem,, 623-336-6001.

December 7-16
Aladdin Jr.
Aladdin and his friends are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the genie who has the power to grant three wishes. The Disney hit features an award-winning score, including “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.” F, 7 p.m.; Sa, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Su, 2 p.m. $17. Greasepaint, 7020 E. Second St., Scottsdale,, 480-949-7529.

December 8
Movies in the Desert (FREE)
Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy a showing of Shrek. Games, music and prizes begin at 5 p.m., followed by the movie at 6:30 p.m. OdySea in the Desert, 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale,, 480-951-2100.

December 9
Cowboy Christmas (FREE)
Gary Sprague, Arizona’s singing cowboy, and his trusty horse, Dusty, stop by for some seasonal carols as part of the 2nd Sundays @ CCM series. Photos with Santa and cookies and milk are included. 2-4 p.m. Cave Creek Museum, 6140 Skyline Dr., Cave Creek,, 480-488-2764.

December 11
Peppa Pig’s Surprise
Based on the hit Nick Jr. TV series, this original production features Peppa, George and all their friends in a live-action adventure full of songs, games and surprises. 6 p.m. Call for ticket prices. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa,, 800-745-3000.

December 15-30
Ella Enchanted: The Musical
A princess who is given the “gift” of obedience at birth must defeat an evil stepmother, a hungry ogre and this troublesome curse to find her own voice and live happily ever after. The musical adventure is staged by Childsplay. Sa, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.; Su, 1 p.m. $12-$30. Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix,, 480-921-5700.

December 26-January 13
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. $12, adults; $8, children 12 and younger. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix,, 602-262-2050.