Summer is here. Time to get busy with some activities the whole family can enjoy without spending a fortune, traveling far, or neglecting academics. A little research, planning, and imagination are all parents need to get started.
Free Fun for Families at the Library
One cool place to visit during the summer is the library. Quiet and air-conditioned, the library offers a pleasant respite from crowded pools and steamy playgrounds.
For small children, lots of local libraries offer story time. Stories are often read with the accompaniment of puppets or large felt boards for extra visual appeal. Storytimes are free and usually occur several times each week. Some libraries provide morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate children of multiple ages. Call the library, stop by or consult the Internet for specific times.
For kids in elementary school, many libraries offer summer reading programs with incentives for the number of books read. For most programs, school-age children need their own library card. Children who don’t have one can usually get a card at the front desk. After getting a card, children are provided a printed list of age-appropriate books with various themes.
Frequently, programs offer prizes for each reading milestone. For every ten books read, for instance, kids get a sticker. When they’ve completed the series, they earn a prize. The incentive may be an activity sponsored by the library, like a magic show or party. Other rewards may include a certificate, a pin or stickers. Occasionally, libraries even offer to treat coupons for local goody shops.
Kids can also enjoy the coloring books as they get better with their eye-hand coordination. Parents will be happy to see them doing an amazing activity like coloring and they can join them and have fun together. The library is a wonderful place to do all kinds of fun activities with your family members and friends.
Bring Kids to Nature Preserves, Botanical Gardens, and Parks
It’s fun to explore nature. Introduce kids to wildlife at a local park. Watch birds, identify plants or observe animals in their habitat. Many wildlife preserves, public gardens, and parks provide tours of the grounds for a small donation.
Bring a sketchbook, journal and magnifying glass. Record observations in the journal, draw pictures of plants and animals and use the magnifying glass to zoom in on interesting features. An ant looks quite different when it’s suddenly two-inches long. Keep a log of all the plants, animals and flowers observed.
At home, use the computer to conduct a little research on the most intriguing natural discoveries. Add any additional facts to the pages written in the journal at the park. They may be useful for projects during the school year or a reason to revisit the library.
Museums Take the Mystery out of History
Museums will provide children of all ages a glimpse into the past, present, and future. Natural history museums feature dinosaur skeletons, stone-age tools and other artifacts of ancient life. Saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, and mummies spring to life at the museum.
Children interested in art will be enchanted by famous works, especially if they are already acquainted with certain artists. A book of art will give burgeoning artists a glimpse of what they will see at the museum. Be sure to pick up a program at the entrance to see what exhibits are featured.
Museums offer planes, trains, and automobiles from days gone by for kids interested in flight, classic cars or steam engines. Some museums have flight or race simulators that let kids pretend they are soaring through the clouds or zipping around sharp corners. Train museums sometimes provide rides with meals served in a dining car. Check with the museum to find out if these amenities are provided and how much they cost.
Most museums request donations or charge a minimal fee. Call or consult the Internet to find a museum nearby. Be sure to ask about fees, parking and gift shops. A day at the museum might be remembered with a little treasure given as a holiday or birthday present.
Take Some Time to Plan Summer Fun
With a little planning, summer can be fun, educational and inexpensive. Many activities are close to home and offer programs for kids of multiple ages. Libraries, parks, and museums are just a few of the great places to visit. Conduct a little research. Sketch out an itinerary. Then pack up some snacks, grab the camera and set out for adventure.