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Dr. Maypole: Summer Outdoor Safety – Itchy Eyes and More

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While outdoor play is a great way to keep children active and happy (and learning!), there are some summertime essentials every parent needs to protect their children from the potential hazards of summertime.

Pool Eyes

Are your children’s eyes red after being in the pool? For many children, this may be a simple case of contact irritation from the chlorine or other chemicals in the water. Their eyes may sting, itch intensely or feel exquisitely sensitive to light. The best treatment is to remove the children’s contact with the irritant by having them take a break from the pool. Most bloodshot eyes will fade back to their normal color within a few hours. If the itchiness is causing a child minor to moderate discomfort, apply a towel wrapped around some ice cubes or a damp washcloth chilled in the fridge to the child’s closed eyes for a few minutes at a time, with breaks, to reduce the inflammation. The key lesson from the dermatologist’s playbook is that the feeling of coolness overrides itchiness. Applying a cold treatment may provide enough relief until the redness and irritation fade away. If the children insist on returning to the pool with fiery-colored eyes, they should use a pair of well-fitting goggles to prevent their eyes from coming into contact with the water. Eye protection may prevent inflammation altogether.

Sun Safety

The use of spray sunscreens remains controversial. Applying it so that children can’t inhale the unhealthy ingredients can be difficult. Spraying can also make it tough to get enough even coverage on exposed skin.

Following consistent commentary from the CDC and product reviewers, I recommend families avoid sunscreens containing nanoparticles. We simply don’t know enough about their effects on little bodies or the environment. Aim to use a product with an SPF between 30 and 50. Anything higher than 50 doesn’t offer any additional benefit and usually costs more. Buy more of the inexpensive stuff and use it liberally, about an ounce per person per application because you have to use enough product for it to work. Read labels, and avoid products with known or suspected health effects, such as oxybenzone, which is a hormone disruptor, and retinyl palmitate, which may increase the risk of sun damage.

To quote my dermatologist uncle and his wisdom for the ages, “Unless you need to use a flash on your camera and you can see the sun, then you need sunscreen.” Listen to Uncle Steve and apply sunscreen.

Foot Care

Athlete’s foot is a slow-moving, annoying-but-not-dangerous fungal infection of the skin. The fungi that cause it are ubiquitous in the environment, and developing an infection is not a sign that a child is unclean or went swimming in the wrong pool. In fact, knowing exactly where someone got athlete’s foot is nearly impossible because it can take up to 10 days to blossom into a rash. The rash is typified by itchy and burning bumps in the spaces between the toes. Tinea pedis, the fungus that causes it, thrives on children with damp feet. Encourage your children to dry their feet after swimming or bathing, to let their feet be exposed to the air when appropriate and to wear clean socks with shoes. If your children have itchy feet and are waiting for an antifungal cream to take effect, I recommend this classic and cheap remedy: apply a chilled, damp cloth or a small bag of ice intermittently to the itchy toes. The feeling of coolness overrides the itchy feeling, so while the cream starts to take effect, your children can chill until their toes feel better.

Dr. Maypole, member of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, is a well-respected pediatrician, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Comprehensive Care Program at Boston Medical Center.

Celebrate Summertime with These Fun Activities in Your State

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Have you found a summer camp program yet? High-quality summer camp can help prevent the dreaded “summer slide” while keeping your kids busy and happy! In the meantime, here’s an epic list of the coolest activities for kids of all ages in every single state.

Alligator Alley

Alabama: Alligator Alley

Um, this might be the only place in the U.S. where your kids can safely hold an alligator. (There are 450 on site at this alligator rescue farm in Summerdale and guided and self-guided tours are available.)

Plan Your Visit

Alabama: Gulf State Park

Your kids will love having ample opportunities to unplug as they bike, swim, fish and camp in this gorgeous park on the Gulf of Mexico, complete with two miles of pristine beach. (Just be sure you make campground or cabin reservations in advance.)

Plan Your Visit

Alabama: U.S. Space and Rocket Center

This museum in Huntsville has the largest collection of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world. It also has super-cool simulators like the space shot (kids can rocket 140 feet straight up in less than 2.5 seconds) and the G-force accelerator (so kids can experience three times the force of gravity).

Plan Your Visit

The Reindeer Farm

Alaska: The Reindeer Farm

Sure, it’s not Christmas yet, but just picture the joy on your kids’ faces when they get to pet, feed and ask hard-hitting Santa questions of actual reindeer at this farm, located about 45 minutes northwest of Anchorage. (There are also picnic tables so you can pack a lunch and hang out all day.)

Plan Your Visit

Alaska: Byron Glacier

Come on, where else in the U.S. can your kids get up close and personal with an actual glacier? OK, so it’s a mile-long hike, but once you arrive at this spot on the Prince Island Sound, it’s quite breathtaking. (And thanks to global warming might not be there that much longer, so go now!)

Plan Your Visit

Alaska: Thunderbird Falls

This stroller-accessible hike in Anchorage is just one mile in length and—barring a few steep spots—is very family-friendly. Plus, the pay-off is huge: At the end of the trail is a dramatic, 200-foot waterfall that will leave your kids in complete awe of a different mom: Mother Nature.

Plan Your Visit

We Who Roam

Arizona: Salt River Tubing

For kids ages eight and up, the Tonto National Forest (dubbed a “mini Grand Canyon”) is a sight to be seen, especially from the water. Pack a lunch and relax as you float down the refreshing mountain water stream.

Plan Your Visit

Arizona: Museum of Natural History

In addition to an indoor, three-story Dinosaur mountain with a simulated flash flood, there’s air conditioning at this Mesa museum—a win-win for the dino-lover in your fam.

Plan Your Visit

Arizona: Wet ‘n Wild Phoenix

Did we mention Arizona is hot during the summertime? Wet ‘n Wild is the ultimate cool-off zone, complete with epic water slides, a lazy river and more.

Plan Your Visit

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Arkansas: Arvest Ballpark

Home to minor league baseball team the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, this Springdale ballpark brings over 70 home games—not to mention festivals, fairs and family fun days—for kids to enjoy all season long.

Plan Your Visit

Arkansas: Blanchard Springs Caverns

Some parts of these caves, located in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, took shape over 350 million years ago. Your kids will love peeping the rock formations (and tiny cave creatures like salamanders) as they tour the area. Bonus: The underground temp stays at a cool 58 degrees, perfect for summer.

Plan Your Visit

Arkansas: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

This 450+ acre park in Eureka Springs is home to over 100 abused, neglected and abandoned big cats—bobcats, ligers, cougars and leopards included.

Plan Your Visit

Disneyland

California: Disneyland

Steep entry fee aside, you really can’t go wrong planning a day (or week) long trip to the OG home of Mickey Mouse. (PSA: Don’t forget you’ve got California Adventure across the way.)

Plan Your Visit

California: Safari Park

This 1,800-acre wildlife refuge operates next to and in partnership with the San Diego Zoo (another places worth visiting if you have time), but it’s the only spot where you can see animals ranging from cheetahs to lions to zebras roam free, from a safari tour.

Plan Your Visit

California: Yosemite National Park

A national landmark since 1864, there’s no end to the kid adventures—including getting sworn in as junior rangers—that can be had within the park’s 1,200 square miles of valleys, meadows, wilderness and more. Just be sure to plan your visit (and book a campsite) in advance.

Plan Your Visit

Garden of the Gods

Colorado: Garden of the Gods

This popular park in Colorado Springs features breathtaking geological formations, plus rock climbing and nature trails. Just keep in mind that for summer, there’s not a ton of shade.

Plan Your Visit

Colorado: Santa’s Workshop

Visiting Santa in July feels like a misnomer, but it’s actually the perfect time of year for a Christmas-centric theme park filled with a range of outdoor rides. And, hey, if you happen to get a pic with Santa at this Cascade hotspot (located 20 minutes from Colorado Springs), you can nail down your holiday card four months in advance.

Plan Your Visit

Colorado: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park

Located in Estes Park, this campground—named after cartoon character Yogi Bear—is right in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. And while your kids can get their fill of nature, there’s also lots of other activities on site including a heated pool, mini golf, a game room and more.

Plan Your Visit

Mystic Aquarium

Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium

In addition to beluga whales, African penguins and sharks, a special exhibit on dinosaurs—featuring 12 animatronic creatures—just recently opened.

Plan Your Visit

Connecticut: Lake Compounce Theme Park

It’s a summer throwback—take your kids to the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States. (Complete with its own kiddie coaster and antique carousel.)

Plan Your Visit

Connecticut: Southington Drive-In Movie Theater

Speaking of throwbacks, your kids will love the thrill of seeing a movie outdoors from the comfort of your car. The summer lineup was just released with films ranging from The Sandlot to The Princess Bride.

Plan Your Visit

Air Mobility Compound Museum

Delaware: Air Mobility Compound Museum

This free museum at Dover Air Force Base showcases some of the U.S. Air Force’s largest (and no-longer-in-use) aircrafts. Watch your kids lose their minds as they get to the know the ins and outs of aerodynamics while walking all around these massive planes.

Plan Your Visit

Delaware: Gardens at Winterthur

This museum/library/garden is home to one of the biggest collections of Americana in the U.S. It also features 1,000 kid-friendly acres of outdoor space including an area called the “Enchanted Woods,” which gives kids an opportunity to explore the world of fairies with attractions like the Troll’s Bridge.

Plan Your Visit

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

Known as one of the top beaches in the country, this shoreline features more than just sun and sand. Along the boardwalk, there’s bumper boats, a water slide, lazy river and more.

Plan Your Visit

Disney World

Florida: Disney World

Ten bucks says your kids will be more thrilled by the Monorail than the actual rides.

Plan Your Visit

Florida: Captiva Island

You’ll love the pristine beaches, but your kids will love the one-of-a-kind beachcombing. (This island off the coast near Fort Myers is ranked one of the best for in the country for finding pretty shells.)

Plan Your Visit

Florida: The Kennedy Space Center

It’s the launch center of human spaceflight. And, if you’re kids are lucky, they might be able to catch an actual rocket lift off. (There’s currently one scheduled for July, FYI.)

Plan Your Visit

Lanier Islands Water Park

Georgia: Lanier Islands Water Park

This Paradise Beach theme park puts water activities at the forefront. But it’s not just for the older kids: The Family Fun Zone includes a wave pool with “wiggle waves” and mini water slides.

Plan Your Visit

Georgia: Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Located on Jekyll Island, this education center is focused on the rehabilitation of sea turtles in the wild. Oh, and there are also alligators.

Plan Your Visit

Georgia: The Georgia Aquarium

It’s the world’s largest aquarium (located in Atlanta) with over ten million gallons of water and one hundred thousand animals on site—whales, jellyfish and puffins galore.

Plan Your Visit

Honolulu Zoo

Hawaii: Honolulu Zoo

This 42-acre zoo features tons of species indigenous to Hawaii, like the short-eared owl and the Hawaiian goose. It also features twilight tours (perfect for older kids).

Plan Your Visit

Hawaii: Dole Pineapple Plantation

Come to this Honolulu homage to the pineapple for the Dole Whip (a part of every tour) but stay to get lost in the botanical pineapple maze. (Seriously, it’s huge!)

Plan Your Visit

Hawaii: Lydgate Beach Park

This Kauai-based beach in the city of Kapaa is a local favorite and features two enclosed swimming areas, both protected by boulders, so it’s easy for your kids to safely splash about. It’s also right across the street from the Kamalani Playground, should they need to blow off a little steam.

Plan Your Visit

Silverwood Theme Park

Idaho: Silverwood Theme Park

This amusement park in Athol is home to the first-ever inverting roller coaster (FYI, kids need to be 48 inches tall to ride), but it’s also got a lazy river, carousel and ferris wheel.

Plan Your Visit

Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park

As long as the temps aren’t too hot, let your kids run—and surf—the sand dunes at this state park and campground, located just 45 minutes outside of Boise.

Plan Your Visit

Idaho: Discovery Center of Idaho

For an afternoon where you need A/C, head to this STEM-focused hands-on science center in Boise, complete with a summer exhibition that’s all about H2O. (Kids may or may not leave soaking wet.)

Plan Your Visit

MLB

Illinois: Wrigley Field

It’s home to the 2018 World Series-winning Chicago Cubs. What better time than summer to take your kiddos to a game?

Plan Your Visit

Illinois: Super Museum

Fun fact: Superman’s hometown is Metropolis, Illinois. That’s why your comic book-loving little one will relish a visit to this museum featuring over 20,000 items tied to the Man of Steel’s history and fictional life.

Plan Your Visit

Illinois: The Museum of Science and Industry

It’s one of the largest science museums in the world. Even though school is out for summer, take your kid to this Chicago institution where they can learn all about Planet Earth, robots and more.

Plan Your Visit

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Indiana: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

It’s the world’s largest kids’ museum and it also has a pretty cool selection of summer exhibits on display, from the Fireworks of Glass to a look at American Pop.

Plan Your Visit

Indiana: Conner Prairie

This interactive history park in Fishers (about 30 minutes north of Indianapolis) is all about exploring science, history and nature in a hands-on way.

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Indiana: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park

With over 100 acres of outdoor sculptures built around nature, this Indianapolis park features art you can climb on. (How could your kids resist?)

Plan Your Visit

Iowa State Fair/Facebook

Iowa: State Fair

Not only is this one of the world’s largest livestock shows and food fairs, there’s also a cow sculpted entirely of butter—something your kids will have to see to believe. (FYI, it takes place for 11 days in August in Des Moines.)

Plan Your Visit

Iowa: Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor

This throwback parlor is an activity all in itself thanks to the rooms stocked to the brim with memorabilia. Also, your kids haven’t lived until they’ve tried a classic ice cream soda.

Plan Your Visit

Iowa: National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

This museum-meets aquarium-meets science center in Dubuque is a place where your kids can learn and touch. There’s also a 4D theater with plenty of child-friendly special effects (think: wind, mist and seat movement).

Plan Your Visit

Oz Museum

Kansas: Oz Museum

Introduce your kids to the movie, then plan a day trip to the museum—located about 45 minutes east of Topeka—which features artifacts, history, folk art and collectibles.

Plan Your Visit

Kansas: Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

Teach your kids where their food comes from with a tour around this farm in Overland Park, complete with lesons in growing veggies, bottle-feeding baby goats and milking cows.

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Kansas: Underground Salt Museum

Your kids will love the chance to tunnel 650 feet below the Earth’s surface and touch actual remnants of the inland ocean. Then, when they’re done, they can ride the Salt Mine Express underground railroad at this Hutchinson spot, just outside of Topeka.

Plan Your Visit

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Kentucky: Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

The official spot where MLB bats get made, this museum also boasts a 120-foot to-scale replica of the actual bat swung by Babe Ruth. Oh, and there’s a tribute to the 25th anniversary of The Sandlot currently on display.

Plan Your Visit

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park

It’s the world’s longest known cave system with over 400 miles waiting for kids to explore. Beyond touring the complex labyrinths, you can go for a family canoe ride, picnic, horseback ride and more.

Plan Your Visit

Kentucky: The Great American Dollhouse Museum

A fascinating place for kids (and weird grown-ups), this Danville-based museum features over 200 dollhouses, all depicting different parts of American social history. (There’s also air conditioning.)

Plan Your Visit

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Louisiana: Gators and Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo

Not only can kids hold and feed gators at this Greenwood zoo, located 20 minutes from Shreveport, they can zip line over many of the residents—camels, kangaroos and miniature horses.

Plan Your Visit

Louisiana: Blain Kern’s Mardi Gras World

They may be too young to really laissez les bons temps rouler, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get in on the action. At this enormous NOLA warehouse, kids can tour the masks, floats and other Mardi Gras ephemera, and even play dress-up in the big costume closet.

Plan Your Visit

Louisiana: Creole Nature Trail

Help your kids tackle some next-level beachcombing as they traverse this trail in Lake Charles, filled with driftwood pieces, moon snails and sea beans, all kosher for bringing home. (It’s also adjacent to 26 miles of beach paradise where they can pick up actual shells.)

Plan Your Visit

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Maine: Portland Sea Dogs Game

It’s hard to beat a minor league baseball game in the heart of Portland. Take your kids to a double-header (and make sure they get a pic with the mascot Slugger).

Plan Your Visit

Maine: Acadia National Park

Sign your kids up for the summer-only Junior Ranger Program, where they earn a badges for scouting things like seals, porpoises and birds.

Plan Your Visit

Maine: Sugarloaf Mountain

Sure, during winter, this place is ski central, but during summer your kids can participate in guided moose tours, go mountain biking, zip lining and more.

Plan Your Visit

Chesapeake Pirates/Instagram

Maryland: Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake

Ahoy! On this Annapolis-based ship, aspiring mateys paint their faces, don their pirate garb and set sail for a 75 minute treasure-finding adventure. (Hint: they always find the treasure.)

Plan Your Visit

Maryland: Larriland Farm

One of the best spots in the state (it’s located in Woodbine) to pick your own cherries or blueberries—an easy summertime kid activity, plus a built-in snack.

Plan Your Visit

Maryland: Billy Goat Trail

Perfect for littles that like the outdoors, this rocky hike goes along the cliffs of the Potomac Gorge. (Just be sure your kids are old enough to have their footing.)

Plan Your Visit

MLB

Massachusetts: Fenway Park

It’s not summer in New England without taking in a Red Sox game. Plan ahead and schedule a 50-minute tour of the ballpark—a historic landmark—before the first pitch is thrown.

Plan Your Visit

Massachusetts: Edgartown

This sandy Martha’s Vineyard destination is accessible by ferry and makes for a great family beach day thanks to the variety of shorelines to choose from, the lack of crowds and the proximity to restrooms—a must for kids. (Plus, fun fact: It’s also the main shooting location for Jaws.)

Plan Your Visit

Massachusetts: The Frog Pond

In the winter, it’s an ice rink, but come summer, this man-made “pond” in the middle of Boston Common becomes a popular wading pool for tots looking to cool off.

Plan Your Visit

Henry Ford Museum/Facebook

Michigan: The Henry Ford Museum

It’s been over 100 years since the Ford Motor Company introduced the Model T. Take your kids to the Dearborn museum where they can learn all about the innovation and spirit of it’s creator, Henry Ford—oh, and actually ride in a restored car.

Plan Your Visit

Michigan: Air Zoo

Experience the science of flight at this aviation museum in Portage (near Kalamazoo) that combines rare aircraft with flight simulators and bi-planes (what the Wright Brothers flew) which your kids can actually steer.

Plan Your Visit

Michigan: National Cherry Festival

It takes place every July in Traverse City. Sign your kids up for the cherry pie eating contest, then stay for the evening fireworks display.

Plan Your Visit

National Eagle Center

Minnesota: National Eagle Center

Give your kids the chance to catch a rare sighting of an American Bald Eagle up close, but also in the wild at this nonprofit located in Wabasha.

Plan Your Visit

Minnesota: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Canoe between the cliffs, crags and canyons of this epic route, located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest.

Plan Your Visit

Minnesota: Mall of America

Forget about shopping — this indoor amusement park at America’s largest mall (in Bloomington) features games, water rides, an aquarium, and an adventure course.

Plan Your Visit

Tupelo Automobile Museum/Facebook

Mississippi: Tupelo Automobile Museum

Enough with Lightening McQueen. Take your little guy to see over 100 antique automobiles, all displayed and laid out to illustrate the history of car design and engineering.

Plan Your Visit

Mississippi: The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies

Dolphin encounters abound at this research institution in Gulfport near Mississippi City, the perfect spot for your kids to learn about the humane animal treatment and conservation efforts of this aquatic creature.

Plan Your Visit

Mississippi: Infinity Science Center

Your kids will relish the chance to see first-hand what an international space station set-up looks like at this Pearlington-based site. The motion and cockpit simulators are another crowd pleaser. And for older ones, so is the bus tour of a NASA rocket-testing facility.

Plan Your Visit

Legoland Discovery Center North America/Instagram

Missouri: Legoland Discovery Center

The Lego-lover in your household will go nuts at this Lego “experience” in Kansas City, complete with a Lego master builder academy and Lego ideas studio.

Plan Your Visit

Missouri: Big Surf Waterpark

This water park in Linn Creek is the place to cool off come summer with food, rides and slides—not to mention a lazy river for younger kids who just want to float and chill.

Plan Your Visit

Missouri: Johnson Shut-Ins State Park

Pitch a tent or rent a cabin at this park in Middle Brook (90 minutes south of St. Louis), which is filled with natural swimming areas, hiking trails and spots to roast s’mores, away from it all.

Plan Your Visit

Visit Montana

Montana: Flathead Lake

It’s the largest natural freshwater lake in the U.S. (with an entry point in Lakeside), which means there’s plenty of room for tubing, canoeing and swimming.

Plan Your Visit

Montana: Big Dipper

Prepare your kids ahead of time: There will almost definitely be a line wrapping around the block just to get a scoop (or two) of ice cream at this Missoula spot, famous for their homemade flavors like cardamom and huckleberry.

Plan Your Visit

Montana: Museum of the Rockies

Home to the largest collection of dinosaur fossils, this museum in Bozeman will pique your kid’s curiosity in the prehistoric creatures and give them a chance to play paleontologist for the day.

Plan Your Visit

Mark Reinstein/Getty Images

Nebraska: Hutchinson Buffalo Ranch

Make your kids turn off their tech and travel back in time at this ranch just a few hours west of Omaha in Rose—a “last frontier” of sorts where you can see actual bison as you tour the area on conestoga wagons. (Canoeing, tubing, sailing and paddleboats are also available to guests who stay on site.)

Plan Your Visit

Nebraska: Fossil Freeway

Over 30 million years ago, a river actually flowed through this area in the Panhandle now filled with remnants in the form of bulky sandstone blocks. Send your kids on a scavenger hunt for imprints left behind by now-extinct animals including saber-toothed cats and rhinos.

Plan Your Visit

Nebraska: Get Tanked Tubing

Pack lunch for the family and float down the scenic Cedar River in an apparatus designed for water-lovers: An eight-foot plastic stock tank with a picnic table built in.

Plan Your Visit

Valley of Fire/Facebook

Nevada: Valley of Fire

Quite seriously, this state park in Overton might be one of the coolest campgrounds your kids have ever seen. It features over 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec Sandstone, perfect for daytime hikes.

Plan Your Visit

Nevada: Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada

There’s a rotating climbing wall, train simulation and airplane teeter totter, all at this popular museum in Carson City.

Plan Your Visit

Nevada: Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

You don’t have to stay at the Mirage hotel to book tickets to this unique Vegas experience: A chance for kids to come face-to-face with dolphins, white tigers, white lions and leopards.

Plan Your Visit

Wildcat Mountain

New Hampshire: Wildcat Mountain

As long as your little ones don’t mind heights, take them on a scenic gondola ride where they can check out sweeping views—or simply plan a nature hike instead. (Thompson Falls is just a 45-minute climb.)

Plan Your Visit

New Hampshire: Clark’s Trading Post

Come summer, this Lincoln theme park’s main focus is family fun—take your kids to the black bear show (with actual bears), ride a steam train or cool off on the water blaster boats.

Plan Your Visit

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach

Even if all you do is grab an ice cream cone at Stillwell’s Surfside Scoop and walk the boardwalk, your kids will be happily entertained.

Plan Your Visit

Jersey Shore Pirates

New Jersey: Jersey Shore Pirates

Get this: At this North Jersey spot, Your kids get to dress up as pirates and learn pirate lingo before setting sail on an action-packed, hour and 15-minute adventure that has them following a treasure map to their booty.

Plan Your Visit

New Jersey: Cape May Point Historic Park

Go for the beachcombing, stay for the mini golf. Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, it’s a go-to spot for families looking to escape the heat without the Jersey shore riff-raff.

Plan Your Visit

New Jersey: Fosterfields Living Historical Farm

Expose your kids to farming as it was done 100 years ago and enlist them to help with daily tasks like collecting eggs, grinding corn, feeding chickens and cleaning a horse’s harness at this working farm in Morristown.

Plan Your Visit

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Sign up for a slew of activities including ranger-guided stargazing and a bat flight program. (Basically, a guided narration of bats’ nocturnal activities.)

Plan Your Visit

New Mexico: Four Corners Monument

A chance for your kids to stand in four states (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado) all at once. (They’ll think it’s the coolest…or the lamest, but who cares as long as you have a photo.)

Plan Your Visit

New Mexico: Roswell UFO Festival

Every July, this festival draws kids and adults from all over the country for live entertainment, a costume contest, parade—and *fingers crossed* an alien sighting.

Plan Your Visit

American Museum of Natural History

New York: American Museum of Natural History

Get ready for a massive collection of dinosaur fossils, to-scale whales and a hall of American mammals (all stuffed) at this famed Manhattan museum. Just don’t forget a stop at the planetarium before you depart.

Plan Your Visit

New York: Fire Island National Seashore

The fact that no cars are allowed on this island makes it an incredibly kid-friendly place where you can bike to the beach, dinner or for a post-dinner ice cream cone. (Just take a ferry to get there.)

Plan Your Visit

New York: State Fair

This 13-day showcase—featuring food, music, carnival rides and oh-so-many butter sculptures—takes place in Syracuse between August 22 and September 3. Hello, summer send-off.

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The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

North Carolina: The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

The planetarium here in Chapel Hill was once used to train real live NASA astronauts, a fact worth dropping on your kids right as a show like the Solar System Odyssey (a crowd favorite) is about to begin.

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North Carolina: Lazy Five Ranch

Home to over 750 animals from six different continents, this “farm” in Mooresville showcases everything from wild mustangs to antelope.

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North Carolina: Pirate Invasion

Save the date for this annual Beaufort event—held this year on August 10 and 11—where people come from all over to reenact the pirate heritage of the area. Your kids will love the treasure hunting, sword fighting and cannon firing, all a spectacle worth seeing.

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Enchanted Highway

North Dakota: Enchanted Highway

Instead of playing the alphabet game, pile the kids into the car and drive this 32-mile stretch of roadway enlisting them to help spot the fancy (and whimsical) metal sculptures dotting the landscape.

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North Dakota: Graham’s Island State Park

Fishing is a beloved pastime for anyone here. Introduce your kids to it where they’re certain to catch something—at Devil’s Lake, the largest natural water body in the state.

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North Dakota: Pitchfork Steak Fondue

A summertime tradition, this outdoor cowboy cookout combines all the thrills of the wild west. After dinner, stay for the Medora Musical, a western-style variety show set against the backdrop of the Dakota Badlands.

Plan Your Visit

Columbus Zoo

Ohio: Columbus Zoo

In addition to the usual suspects—lions, tigers and bears—your kids will get to see the likes of the American bison and African Gray parrot while on a Congo expedition (aka a super-cool guided tour).

Plan Your Visit

Ohio: Mid Ohio Sports Car Course

The ideal spot to take the car-lover in your fam, this race track offers plenty of spectator experiences (in addition to actual races) featuring vintage automobiles, rugged trucks, motorcyles and more.

Plan Your Visit

Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Teens will love combing through this Cleveland museum for relics of a distant past. (You know…one where people played guitars.)

Plan Your Visit

Beavers Bend State Park/Facebook

Oklahoma: Beavers Bend State Park

One of the best places in McCurtain County to hike, bike, swim and fish. (Speaking of which, there are two well-stocked catch and release trout streams, the perfect place for your kids to learn the sport.)

Plan Your Visit

Oklahoma: Orr Family Farm

In addition to riding the vintage carousel and replica transcontinental locomotive, kids can zipline across this farm in Oklahoma City to take in the views from above.

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Oklahoma: Tiger Safari

Your kids will never forget the summer they got to hold (and feed) baby tigers at this “zoo” in Tuttle, complete with actual safari tours.

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Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival/Facebook

Oregon: Lincoln City Kite Festival

This annual kite festival held every June is not to be missed—but if you pop by the beaches in the area on, say, a random Tuesday, the chances are still good that you’ll see plenty of families testing the wind with their own kite, bought at local favorite Catch the Wind Kite Shop.

Plan Your Visit

Oregon: Oregon Zoo

This 64-acre zoo in Portland will entertain your kids all afternoon. Then, if you can swing it, stick around for the evening concert series—a summer-only event.

Plan Your Visit

Oregon: Silver Falls State Park

Depending on how ambitious your family is feeling, there’s an eight-mile hike that allows you to see 10 waterfalls in a single day. (There’s also a much shorter loop you can take with younger kids.)

Plan Your Visit

Sesame Place

Pennsylvania: Sesame Place

Bring on the Elmo freaks: This theme park an hour outside of Philadelphia includes rides, water attractions and live entertainment and is a great bet for littler guys who might get overwhelmed by bigger amusement parks.

Plan Your Visit

Pennsylvania: Crayola Experience

Kids see first-hand how crayons get made at this Easton warehouse, just an hour and a half north of Philly. Then, when they’re done, they can take home a souvenir set named after themselves.

Plan Your Visit

Pennsylvania: Hershey Park

There are 14 roller coasters and a zoo at this epic amusement park that also offers ample opportunities to taste-test chocolate.

Plan Your Visit

Sky Zone

Rhode Island: Sky Zone

Summer is the best time to nab a good deal at this indoor trampoline park located in East Providence.

Plan Your Visit

Rhode Island: Pawtucket Red Socks

Another minor league team worth checking out. Keep in mind, if you go on a Saturday night, there will be be post-game fireworks, win or lose.

Plan Your Visit

Rhode Island: Roger Williams Park Zoo

This time of year, Food Truck Fridays are all the rage at this popular 40-acre zoo in Providence, one of the oldest in the country.

Plan Your Visit

Frankie’s Fun Park

South Carolina: Frankie’s Fun Park

There are locations all over the state for this amusement park, known for its arcade games, rides and—soon to be your kid’s favorite—a go-kart race track.

Plan Your Visit

South Carolina: Alligator Adventure

Located in North Myrtle Beach, it’s one of the largest facilities for reptile life in the U.S. After watching a live feeding, your kids can pose alligator-related questions to the staff veterinarian, aptly nicknamed “the croc doc”.

Plan Your Visit

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach

Let’s just say there are over 50 miniature golf courses to choose from in the area. (And Myrtle Waves Water Park is just a stone’s throw from the beach.)

Plan Your Visit

1880 Train

South Dakota: 1880 Train

This working vintage steam train in Hill City will captivate your child—and you—as you take it on a historic route through the state’s most famed gold-panning spots.

Plan Your Visit

South Dakota: Custer State Park

Your kids will love keeping their eyes peeled for cool animals—think deer, sheep, elk, even burros—as you take a scenic drive through the park. (Bring a picnic lunch for a pit stop.)

Plan Your Visit

South Dakota: Mammoth Site & Museum

Get this: An actual sink hole in Hot Springs uncovered a treasure trove of fossils—including woolly mammoths—from the ice age. Your kids will go berserk.

Plan Your Visit

Discovery Park of America

Tennessee: Discovery Park of America

Impress your kids with this 50-acre complex in Union City, complete with a 20,000-gallon aquarium, an actual earthquake simulator and train station.

Plan Your Visit

Tennessee: Tennessee Aquarium

There’s a shark touch pool at this Chattanooga spot, not to mention three living forests, a 3D IMAX theater and more.

Plan Your Visit

Tennessee: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

This “moving” museum in Chattanooga offers experiences (most under an hour in length) that will give your kids the chance to understand railroad travel as it was in the past.

Plan Your Visit

Enchanted Springs Ranch

Texas: Enchanted Springs Ranch

A throwback to the old west, your kids can enjoy horseback rides, eat out of a chuckwagon and learn all about cowboy culture when they visit this theme park in Boerne.

Plan Your Visit

Texas: Dallas World Aquarium

This Dallas-based aquarium has a rainforest vibe, but also plenty of endangered species like Orinoco crocodiles. There’s even an underwater tunnel where sharks swim over your head.

Plan Your Visit

Texas: Dinosaur Valley State Park

Arm your kids with the tools they need (binoculars, a magnifying glass, an animal tracking key—all available on site), then embark on a family mission to locate prehistoric dino tracks, at this state park in Glen Rose.

Plan Your Visit

Utah Olympic Park/Facebook

Utah: Olympic Park

The former site of the 2002 Winter Games, this Park City spot has tons of summer-themed activities, like zip lining, extreme tubing and water polo.

Plan Your Visit

Utah: Arches National Park

With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, this national park located just north of Moab is great for your natural-born climber.

Plan Your Visit

Utah: George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park

There are over 100 life-like dinosaur sculptures at this eight-acre outdoor park in Ogden—go on a scheduled tour or roam free (like the dinos did).

Plan Your Visit

Ben& Jerry’s

Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

This Waterbury spot is where the famous pints (Cherry Garcia, anyone?) get made. Take your kids on a 30-minute tour and treat them to a scoop—or two—at the end.

Plan Your Visit

Vermont: Shelburne Farms

The best place to help your kids learn about a more sustainable future, this farm in Shelburne (a suburb of Burlington) offers hands-on educational experiences like brushing sheep and milking goats.

Plan Your Visit

Vermont: Smuggler’s Notch

Plan ahead for lunch at Smugglers’ Notch Picnic Area (located in a narrow pass through the Green Mountains) then stroll along the wetlands boardwalk all afternoon.

Plan Your Visit

Natural Bridge Caverns

Virginia: Natural Bridge Caverns

A tour at these caverns, located west of Richmond, takes just 45 minutes, but on it, you and your family can descend more than 34 stories deep within the earth.

Plan Your Visit

Virginia: Go Ape Freedom Park

Kids have to be 10 or older, but once they are, they’ll absolutely love traversing this treetop obstacle course in Williamsburg that offers Tarzan swings and a ropes course.

Plan Your Visit

Virginia: TwinCreeks Llamas

Hiking is cool and all, but what if you could bring a llama along for company and to carry your gear? Your kids will get a kick out of spending a day with the creature, domesticated 6,000 years ago at this animal reserve outside of Washington D.C. in Bentonville. (Reservations required.)

Plan Your Visit

Washington: Bryant Blueberries

It’s pick your own blueberries at this well-known farm in New Salisbury, which also has a petting zoo and playground.

Plan Your Visit

Wolf Haven International

Washington: Wolf Haven International

Home to about 250 displaced wolves, this spot in Tenino, just south of Olympia, is designed with kids in mind: There’s a 50-minute tour designed to remove the storybook stigma and a chance to glimpse these beautiful creatures up close.

Plan Your Visit

Washington: Museum of Flight

It’s the largest air and space museum in the world (located in Seattle)—and also your kid’s chance to hop in a flight simulator and play pilot for the day.

Plan Your Visit

MILB

West Virginia: West Virginia Black Bears

It’s not summer without a trip to the ballpark—this minor league team (which plays its games in Granville) is all kinds of nostalgic.

Plan Your Visit

West Virginia: Mystery Hole

Give your kids the chance to question the laws of gravity with a visit to this roadside attraction (it’s found in Ansted, which is 15 minutes north of Fayetteville) where the gravitational pull seems to be a bit off. (No one can explain it!)

Plan Your Visit

West Virginia: River Riders

The ultimate way to cool off in the summer is a guided (and family-friendly) white water rafting tour, which takes off from Harper’s Ferry.

Plan Your Visit

Bookworm Gardens

Wisconsin: Bookworm Gardens

This Sheboygan botanic garden (located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay) is inspired by your kid’s favorite children’s books and uses imaginative landscaping skills to bring classics like Harold and the Purple Crayon and Goldilocks and the Three Bears to life.

Plan Your Visit

Wisconsin: Cranberry Discovery Center

Total day trip material, this experiential center in Warrens (outside of Madison) will teach your kids everything they need to know about the cranberry industry…and the history of the state fruit.

Plan Your Visit

Wisconsin: Madison Children’s Museum

While there’s no limit to the range of activities your kids can enjoy at this museum, we’re partial to the inventive city of Possible-opolis which is filled with interactive puzzles, games and a giant gerbil wheel.

Plan Your Visit

7D Ranch

Wyoming: 7D Ranch

This Cody-based ranch is the perfect place for your kids to experience cowboy life and learn all about the Yellowstone ecosystem. The kids program (aimed at children six and older) even offers the chance to saddle up.

Plan Your Visit

Wyoming: Continental Divide Dogsled Adventures

It’s one of the largest dog sled kennels in North America (and located in Dubois). Sign up the family for a one hour tour.

Plan Your Visit

Wyoming: Hot Springs State Park

Plan to BYO lunch and picnic by the all-natural mineral hot springs while actual bison roam nearby. There’s even a free bath house if your kids want to dip their toe in the water.

Plan Your Visit

International Spy Museum

Washington, D.C.: International Spy Museum

As soon as you enter, each family member will be given a secret identity and your kids will have to work hard to assume their undercover persona. (Not kidding, there’s a test at the end.)

Plan Your Visit

Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Your kids will flip walking around this working facility on the National Mall where actual U.S. dollars get printed. There’s a film and gallery tour, but you can also head straight to the production floor for a clear view of all the cash.

Plan Your Visit

Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian National Zoo

There are more than 2,000 animals to spot at this free zoo, but after your little ones are done keeping a distance from the gorillas and lions and bears, they’ll love visiting the kid’s farm for a chance to meet and greet cows, alpacas and donkeys.

Plan Your Visit

 

How Does a Garden Grow?

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Combine family fun with learning about nature and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Spending time gardening with your children can be fun and help them learn about how things grow. Most children have an inborn desire to explore and understand their world. Gardening is a perfect way for them to explore nature while learning about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. By gardening, your children will begin to develop new skills and ideas. They will learn new plant-related words, practice math skills by counting the number of days the seed takes to grow roots and learn about procedures and sequences by tracking the stages of the plant’s growth.

Begin your adventure by reading a book about gardening, such as The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, which will whet your children’s interest and cultivate their imaginations. After the introduction, you can talk about the basic steps involved in starting a garden.

  1. Plant a seed
  2. Count the number of days until the root, which is hidden under the soil, comes out of the seed.
  3. Look for the shoot to emerge from the soil.
  4. Watch the seed coat drop off displaying the new leaves as the shoot emerges.
  5. Observe how the seedling forms.
  6. Appreciate how the baby plant grows.

In your local garden store, you can find seeds, decomposable pots and topsoil. Let your children fill the pots with the soil and help them plant the seeds in the soil. After the seedlings grow large enough, the whole family can till the garden. Your children will develop a healthy lifestyle by working outdoors and eating the fresh food that your plants produce.

Outdoor Play for Infants and Toddlers – Lee Scott

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Goddard School Educational Advisory Board member Lee Scott gives six outdoor play ideas for infants and toddlers.

Summer is a great time for playing outside with your child. Many fun outdoor activities support sensory integration, language development and fine and gross motor skill development. Of course, you will also be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Here are six activities to enjoy in the summer sun.

  1. Use water and sand for sensory play. Provide plastic buckets, and let your child mix and handle water and sand. She will love the textures. Sing a song as you play to describe what your child is doing. Try “Here We Are Playing in the Sand” sung to the tune of “Here We Go ‘round the Mulberry Bush.” Singing and talking while playing is terrific for early language development.
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  1. Go for a walk. You can walk in the backyard, in your neighborhood or in a nearby park. As your child looks around and points to things, talk about his observations. Pick up flowers, leaves, stones and sticks. Let him feel the items, but be careful not to let him put them in his mouth. Children learn by observing and experiencing new things. Your descriptions of the items will help your child build language skills.

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  1. Enjoy early science activities without the mess. Show your child some ice cubes and watch them melt while asking your child what is happening to them. Place ice cream in a sealed plastic bag and let your child play with it until it melts. Remember to talk about what is happening and repeat the activities a few times.

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  1. Set up a station for messy art. With finger paints and paper, encourage your child to use her hands and feet to create a design. The best part is that you can clean up with a hose while she enjoys playing in the water. Let your child hose you off, too.

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  1. Create an outdoor obstacle course. Start with big cardboard boxes, blankets draped over a chair and other large objects. Include your child’s favorite stuffed animal or a ball. He can then explore the course by going in, under and around the items. Give simple directions, such as “Roll the ball into the box” or “Let’s have Teddy go through the hoop.” Your child will build language and listening skills while working on his gross motor development.

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  1. Let your little one crawl, walk and run. My nephew took his first steps when we were playing outside with a few balls and he stood up to get one that had rolled away. Luckily, we got a snapshot before he sat down again.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Our Top Ten Children’s Books to Celebrate National Creativity Day – Lee Scott and Helen Hadani

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Goddard School Educational Advisory Board members Lee Scott and Helen Hadani name their top ten children’s books that celebrate creativity.

  1. Beautiful Oops, Barney Saltzberg

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A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.

Buy

2. Papa’s Mechanical Fish, Candice Fleming

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Candace Fleming and illustrator Boris Kulikov pair up to tell a fun story about a real submarine inventor in Papa’s Mechanical Fish

Buy

3. The Giant Jam Sandwich, John Vernon Lord

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It’s a dark day for Itching Down. Four million wasps have just descended on the town, and the pests are relentless! What can be done? Bap the Baker has a crazy idea that just might work . . .Young readers will love having this lyrical, rhyming text in a new accessible format as they watch the industrious citizens of Itching Down knead, bake, and slather the biggest wasp trap there ever was!

Buy

4. The Most Magnificent Thing, Ashley Spires

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Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!”

Buy

5. What Do You Do with an Idea?, Kobi Yamada

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This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself.

Buy

6. The Dot, Peter Reynolds

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Her teacher smiled. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

Buy

7. The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalt

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Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit!

Buy

8. Not a Box, Antoinette Portis

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Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over inside a cardboard box, and through play, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.

Buy

9. Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty

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The beloved New York Times bestselling picture book about pursuing one’s passion with persistence and learning to celebrate each failure on the road to achieving one’s dreams.

Buy

10. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Eric Carle

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Every child has an artist inside them, and this vibrant picture book from Eric Carle will help let it out. The artist in this book paints the world as he sees it, just like a child

Buy

5 Tips for Teaching Your Children What a REAL Hero Looks Like

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It can help them build up their own self-esteem and self-worth.

Mentors and role models, we all know, serve great value in our lives. They teach, inspire, excite and support us.

Sometimes, however, our culture’s obsession with celebrity and wealth can create an environment where children are choosing their heroes or role models based on status or power.

That’s why I wrote a book to help children identify positive role models who will empower them to be their best, The Hero Book: Learning Lessons from the People You Admire. We need to help children think about what makes their ‘heroes’ admirable; encourage them to seek out positive role models whose examples will provide positive guidance and empowerment; inspire them to emulate the traits and actions of those they admire; and strengthen their self-esteem by showing them all the admirable qualities they possess.

Here are some top tips on helping your children find positive role models:

1. Turn it upside down.

When you talk to your children about their heroes or role models, get them thinking first about the qualities and traits that they admire in people; that way, they’ll begin to view people through the lens of those qualities that they find inspiring.

2. Talk to your children about your role models, and, when you do, be sure to highlight WHY the person is your role model.

Mention the qualities that inspire you—like the person’s kindness, integrity, hard work and courage—so that your child can see that heroes might be well-known people, but can also be people who they see everyday who act in ways that inspire others.

3. Show them they are heroes too.

Once you’ve shown your children that people can be admired for their qualities and characteristics, it’s then easy to let them think about the great qualities that they possess—helping them to build their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

4. Show them how they can learn from their role models.

Now that they’ve thought about the qualities they admire in others, who they choose as role models, and what they like about themselves, you can explain to them the best way to show you admire someone is to emulate the things you think are great. For example, if they admire someone for being kind, suggest they think of some kind things they can do. If they admire someone for being talented at a skill, have them think about a skill they want to be good at, and how they plan to practice and work hard to improve it.

5. Plan a HERO party and make it fun.

There’s a free parent’s guide that offers activities for planning a children’s party that inspires children to think about role models and celebrate the hero inside themselves.

 

This article was written by Ellen Sabin from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Frozen Bananas

Beat the heat with this delicious summer treat!

Frozen Bananas

You Will Need

Bananas

Popsicle Sticks

Nut or Seed Butter

Chocolate Syrup

Honey

Trail Mix

Granola

Chopped Nuts

Parchment Paper

  1. Peel a banana and cut it into two pieces.
  2. Insert a Popsicle stick in the flat end of each piece of banana.
  3. Use a butter knife or spatula to cover the banana with your choice of nut or seed butter; honey or chocolate syrup.
  4. Roll in granola, trail mix or chopped nuts.
  5. Place the bananas on a tray covered with parchment paper and freeze.

Children will “go bananas” for this fun frozen treat!

Get Your Kids to Spring Clean With You

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It’s springtime, and many of us will be taking on spring cleaning tasks like washing the windows or deep cleaning our kitchen appliances. Many spring cleaning tasks involve heavy lifting and require stronger cleaning solutions than we use for our day-to-day chores, making them less than ideal for kids to help with. But there are some tasks that are suited to doing with your children, should you want to get them involved in your spring cleaning routine.

We take spring cleaning very seriously at Lifehacker. Far be it from us to let an opportunity to refresh, reorganize, and declutter our homes lives pass us by. We’re also pretty psyched to hit the reset button on our tech usage, take a close look at our finances, and give the heave-ho to the day-to-day habits that have gotten a little musty. Welcome to Spring Cleaning Week, wherein we clear the cobwebs of winter and set the stage for sunny days ahead. Let’s clean things up, shall we?

A few general tips to consider: First, take the time to clearly explain and/or demonstrate the task ahead. Sure, it will add a little time to the process, but it will also help them learn, and save you from having to do their work over. Speaking of doing the work over: Try to avoid that if you can so you don’t inadvertently send a message that their best wasn’t good enough. It’s also a great idea to get them dressed for the job at hand—have them wear old or sturdy clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty. And, of course, you’ll want to take into account the age and skill level of your child, as well as any other concerns like allergies or respiratory problems that may make it less than ideal for them to participate in a given task.

Washing the Car

It’s my personal opinion that washing a car is one of the most fun chores around and when the weather turns, it’s a great job to get the kids involved in.

Start with the interior and have them help sort through any trash and recycling that are cluttering up the car, take out any stuff like toys or a stray sneaker or books that need to be returned to their rightful home. Then, have the kids use a handheld vacuum to vacuum the seats and floors.

Once the interior is clean, the real fun can begin! Washing a car’s exterior isn’t rocket science, but there are a few best practices to know: Work from the top down; wash and dry the car in sections so that soap and water residue doesn’t dry onto the car as you work, leaving sudsy residue and water spots; use car wash soap instead of dish soap, which can dull the car’s clear coat.

Dusting Baseboards

The great thing about turning kids loose on the baseboards is that they’re already low to the ground anyway! Plus, dusting baseboards requires nothing more than microfiber, like this dusting cloth from Casabella, which makes it perfect for kids—no harsh chemical products, no sloshing buckets of cleaning solution, just a rag and some crawling action are all that’s required.

Vacuuming Furniture

You can add a little extra fun to this chore by letting your kid keep any change they find hidden in the cushions. The job is easy and can/should certainly involve making a pillow fort out of couch and chair cushions, decorative pillows and throw blankets as you take them off the frame of the furniture. Then, put the upholstery or crevice attachment on the vacuum for your kids and have them do the honors, starting with vacuuming the frame, then giving the cushions and pillows a good THWAMPING to redistribute stuffing and knock out dust. Then, replace the cushions and vacuum them as well. Finally, launder blankets and throw pillows if needed.

Doorknobs and Lightswitch Plates

This is an easy little task that only a rag or paper towels and a small amount of a gentle all-purpose cleaner: Have kids wipe off doorknobs and light switch plates—which, by dint of being touched all the time, get quite grimey and germy—going room by room. You can divvy it up by room or give one kid doorknob duty and another light switch duty and have them count to see which one you have more of in your home, to make it a little bit more game-like.

Cleaning and Organizing a Bookshelf

Bookshelves, like baseboards, get quite dusty but deep cleaning really only requires a good microfiber cloth, making it a good task for kids to help with. Remove all the books and knick-knacks from shelves and work from the top down, since dust will travel south as you clean. Smaller kids can be tasked with wiping books off while taller kids can work on the bookcase itself. Then, have the kids pitch in with putting everything away by having them organize books by color, or alphabetically by author.

Washing Trash Cans

Trash cans and recycling bins get super dirty, even if you’re diligent about always using liners. While you don’t need to clean them regularly, it’s not a bad idea to wash them out once or twice a year, and it’s a great job to do outside on a nice day. Much like washing a car, it can be a lot of fun for kids to splash around with a bucket of sudsy water and/or a hose. A large car washing sponge, dish soap, water and a rag for drying are really all that’s needed for the job, and you can have the kids start by finding all the trash cans and recycling bins in the house, emptying them if they’re full, then bringing them all outside to be washed. Once they’re clean, dry them using a rag (an old bath towel would be perfect here) and have the kids bring them back inside to be put away.

 

This article was written by shared by Jolie Kerr to Lifehacker and Jolie Kerr on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

A Trick to Teach Kids Compassion

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It’s easy to conclude that people generally suck. Don’t they, though? There’s the driver who cut you off, the lady who appears out of nowhere to swipe the last Costco sample off the tray when you’ve been waiting patiently in line, the “friend” who’s forgotten your birthday three years in a row. I get why we’d assume others just aren’t trying.

But this, of course, is a damaging outlook to take. It closes us off from connection, and makes us cranky and bitter. As a parent, I want to teach my daughter to view others with compassion over judgment—a tough skill to learn, but one that will serve her every day. Sabina Nawaz, writing for Harvard Business Review, shares an activity that I like a lot. She and her kids play what they call Multiple Meanings, a simple people-watching game that promotes empathy. Here’s how it works:

We take turns creating stories from observations of people and events on trips to and from school. For example, if we see a man walking rapidly on the sidewalk with tattooed arms and a sleeveless vest, we might make up a story that he’s late for work because his car broke down, so he’s walking fast to get help. Maybe he owns a tattoo parlor across the bridge and is a walking advertisement for his business. Or maybe he’s meeting someone in the park and is running late. Our children then use the skill when they’re upset about something at home or at school. This is especially helpful when my sons argue and come to me for mediation. To reduce the heat in the conflict, I ask: “What other meanings can you make about why your brother borrowed your Lego airplane?” The goal is to be able to calm themselves down and be more empathetic, so they approach someone else with curiosity instead of judgment.

We often teach kids to mind their own business. But what if we didn’t? What if we taught them to wonder about people, even those who might hurt them? What if we reminded them that everyone is fighting a hard battle? What if will pushed them to challenge their assumptions and give others the benefit of the doubt—or even better, ask them about their lives? In Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong, she asks her husband if he believes people are doing the best they can. His response was this: “I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” That is exactly it.

With your kids, help them use their natural love for stories to come up with their own narratives for the toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, the man who’s getting upset at the bank or the bully in the book their reading. In the end, the story they’re changing will be their own.

 

This article was written by shared by Michelle Woo to Lifehacker and Michelle Woo on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Do it With Your Kids

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As a working mom with a to-do list longer than the refrigerator, trying to find time to workout and raise happy, healthy children is nearly impossible. But who says you have to compartmentalize exercising and parenting? By exercising as a family, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Staying Fit as a Family

Unless you’re a professional athlete or trainer who works out for a living, exercise shouldn’t be something you separate from the rest of your life. Between work and other responsibilities, you’re already away from your children enough. By bringing them into your workout routine, you can spend quality time with them and stay fit.

There are numerous advantages associated with working out with kids. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps your kids see exercise as normal and healthy, as opposed to something that’s strange and unsatisfactory.

“Not only is including your kid in your workouts an effective way for him or her to have positive associations with exercise, it’s a great way for you to remember that working out shouldn’t always be a chore. So many adults are focused on sets and reps, when they could really benefit from playing,” trainer Naomi Nazario writes in Men’s Health..

The question is, how do you exercise with your kids in a manner that’s safe, effective, and challenging for all ages? The following suggestions may help:

Go For Walks Before or After Dinner

One of the easiest ways to get exercise is to take a nightly walk, either before or after dinner. While this isn’t rigorous exercise, it’s enough to get your blood flowing. Even more importantly, it provides an outlet for having conversations and seeing how your kids are doing on a heart level.

Play Games on the Trampoline

Older kids may enjoy neighborhood walks, but younger kids will get bored pretty quickly. Switch things up to keep each of your children fully engaged.

One idea is to play around on the trampoline – which is an extremely good platform for exercise. It engages your muscles and builds core strength. If you have a trampoline in your backyard, jump together. Don’t have a trampoline? Visit a local trampoline park and play games like H-O-R-S-E or dodgeball. This probably isn’t something you’ll do every day, but it’s a good weekly activity to mix things up.

Play Sports in the Backyard

If you have athletic kids who play sports – or even kids who like the idea of sports – you can get some really good exercise in by playing various games in the backyard or driveway.

For example, you and your kids can have a lot of fun playing basketball, kickball, or even four square. Over time, these may even become family traditions.

Create Fitness Competitions

Kids love competition. If you’re able to make fitness into a game, you’re much more likely to get your children involved on a regular basis. One idea is to have a weekly competition. Something as simple as the loser of a round of a game having to do certain exercises can result in a great workout.

Watch YouTube Workout Videos

As your kids get older and become more interested in organized workout routines, you may think about doing YouTube workout videos together. YouTube has a huge collection of workout videos from both amateurs and professional trainers. They’re free and can be accessed on demand in your own living room.

Finding Balance in Your Life

If you spend too much time working out on your own, you won’t have much of a relationship with your children. If you don’t workout enough, you’ll be unhealthy. Life is all about balance, and you need to look for ways to balance parenting and fitness. As this article shows, a little tweaking makes it possible to do both.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.