There's exciting news for kids who are bored with shopping. Discovery Zone, a 6,000-square-foot play land for children, opens Saturday at the Dayton Mall.

The new fitness center for kids includes slides, tubes, a moonwalk, water beds, tunnels, a mini-race track, mountain climb, spider-net bridges, an obstacle course and oodles of balls to fall into. Look for the center on the main floor of the mall, in the old Sadie's Buffet location.

"It is supervised play and we have a ratio of one staff member to every 20 children," says Linda Weiss, a staff member. "We work on coordination, endurance, balance, motor skills."

Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Socks are required.

Basic cost is $4.99 per child (12 and younger). Adults are encouraged to play with their children and pay no fee. A variety of plans are offered, including a $14.99 club membership that gives kids unlimited visits for one year for $3.99 each time. For $99.99, children can play for a year.

The facility is divided in two, based upon a child's size: the Mini Zone for little ones and a Mega Zone for kids more than 40 inches tall.

Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There are group rates and special plans for day-care centers and Scout groups; birthday parties include private party rooms and your own host.

For more information, call 435-0556.\ ***************************************************************************

Earth Day activities\ "Love the Earth like you would love yourself," advises 10-year-old Bri Laskey in the book, Dear World.

Children in Bri's generation have the potential to save the planet. Educating children about the environment is essential.

The folks at Miami Valley Earth Central have planned a weekend of educational and entertaining activities for families at the Dayton Mall.

Preserve Planet Earth Expo gets under way on Friday and runs through Sunday.

A featured attraction is the Van Manens, winners of a "Parents' Choice" award, who will sing selections from their new release, We Recycle.

Take time to visit the booths. Staffers from area organizations will be on hand with live animals to explain the importance of preserving the animals' natural habitat. There will be free hands-on activities for youngsters at the children's booth, which will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Look for these stage presentations throughout the weekend:

Meet a red-tailed hawk with the folks from the Aullwood Audubon Farm and Center.

Tom Patterson of the Dayton Museum of Natural History will show off some animal friends and discuss preserving natural areas.

A bobcat will be on stage courtesy of the International Society for Endangered Cats.

Betsy Ross of the Glen Helen Raptor Center will focus on Ohio owls.

Wesleyan Nature Center will show how friendly a black rat snake can be.

Earth Day songs will be presented by the Miami Valley Mormon Chorale.

The Van Manens will perform at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and at 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday. The couple also will appearat 7 p.m. Saturday at Magsig School, 192 W. Franklin, Centerville, in a free concert sponsored by the members of the Bahai Faith in the Miami Valley. On Sunday night they'll offer a free musical workshop for parents on balancing work, family and spiritual life at 7 at the Beavercreek YMCA, 560 Grange Hall Road\ ***************************************************************************

'Where's Gerald?'\ Dayton's Mara Curran has written a book about Gerald, a wayward little grasshopper.

She'll read Where's Gerald? for parents and kids at Wegerzyn Horticultural Center, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., at 11 a.m. Saturday.

After story time, participants will go out into the gardens to look for "Gerald" and his insect friends.

Cost is $1 for member children and $3 for non-members. For reservations, call 277-6545.

Curran's book is $3.50 and can be purchased at Books & Co., Wilkie's and the gift shops at Cox Arboretum, Wegerzyn Garden Center, Children's Medical Center and the Dayton Museum of Natural History.\

[ILLUSTRATION] PHOTOS: (2):\ (#1) The Van Manens\ (#2) Discovery Zone at Dayton Mall can be quite a find for kids\