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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

5 Ways to Calm Holiday Stress

stressed mom holding new born baby

by Kyle Pruett, M.D. Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

It seems a given that the holidays will be overdone yet again this year. Kids are only young once, right? After the year many families have had, who wants to cut back? Furthermore, parents have their own ideas and images about how the holidays should or should not go, and if there are two parents, it is unlikely that they are identical ideas and images. Throw in a limited budget and visits with extended family and things can get pretty exciting/tense pretty quickly. Most of us tend to focus on keeping our kids and their schedules – especially of the young ones – under some kind of control to limit the damage and hurt feelings that frequently accompany this overdoing. But the most effective way to calm holiday stress is to manage our own. Kids will learn far more about staying calm when we get there first.

1) Manage your own expectations. Perfect holidays do not exist in real time. So expect some happiness, delight, surprises, disappointments, fatigue and the occasional meltdown. Tell your kids to expect the same. Families are just like that during the holidays, even when they are at their best.

2) Make a list. Well ahead of time, sit down and make a list of holiday things you’d like to do or achieve, then cut it in half and proceed. One or two special events spread out over two days, with a generous dose of hanging out and ‘just being time’ (as our teenagers labeled such inactivity), is a pretty good pace. Get some sleep with the time you save instead.

3) Accept help from others. Remember, you have already yielded on perfection as a goal. So let people bring some food and distribute chores on the bigger events. People old and young typically love being useful, even it adds to the chaos.

4) Watch the sweets, fats (kids and grown-ups) and fermented spirits. Your (and your kids’) tensions can all be exacerbated by lousy dietary indulgences, not to mention the guilt and the weight gain, which only add more stress. Having fewer of them in the house or apartment to begin with tips the scales toward success.

5) Get out of the house and exercise (kids and grown-ups). It helps to repair the damage to routines and relationships by freshening the internal and external environments. Once, when I was in 5th grade, my parents (who were not typically jokesters) actually faked a power outage between the main holiday meal and dessert, just to get everyone away from the TVs and out of the house for a while. It was one of our favorite holiday gatherings ever. Lesson learned.

Advice That Never Gets Old – Goddard Grandparents Weigh in with Words of Wisdom

cartoon grandparents with speech bubble

With age comes wisdom. That’s what they say, right? For the grandparents in the Goddard family, that’s certainly the case – they have kindly agreed to share a few pieces of universally helpful advice that have served them well over the years in the hopes that they could serve you and your children well, too.

  1. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Yes, the Golden Rule is as true now as it ever was. This advice is incredibly simple to follow: if you want to be treated kindly, then treat others kindly.
  2. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Which is to say that absolutely nothing good comes of saying mean things to people. We’re all human, though, and we all have unkind thoughts sometimes. If you have something rude to say, keep it to yourself. Or if you really need to get a mean thought out of your head, write it down on a piece of paper, tear it up and throw the pieces away. That way, nobody gets hurt.
  3. Nothing happens if you don’t show up. Be there for the people and things you care about. To create a full life, show up for school, show up for work, show up for your friends and show up for your family members. These actions can make all the difference in the world.

What are some sage pieces of advice your grandparents have given you?

 

Children’s Books About Inclusion and Diversity

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

good way to begin a dialogue with young children about inclusion and diversity is by listening to and reading stories. Engaging young children with stories of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and races helps extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing them with opportunities to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions within their families and communities. This helps promote critical thinking about bias, and it develops children’s ability to stand up for themselves and others in the face of bias 

The following is a compilation of books selected by members of the Educational Advisory Board as well as families who also sent us book ideas that they feel support the understanding of inclusion and empathy. Here is a list of 15 books to help launch important conversations: 

Infants and Toddlers

Who Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim is a tickle and giggle book with beautiful baby’s brown toes.

Whos Toes Are Those Book CoverTen Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox is a wonderful celebration of babies from all over the world.

Ten Littler Fingers and Ten Little Toes children's book cover

Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison shares the inspirational stories of powerful black women in history.

Dream Big Little One Children's Book Cover

Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora is a cheerful book that all babies will enjoy. 

PeekABoo Morning Children's Book Cover

Who? A Celebration of Babies by Robie Harris is just that, a wonderful book featuring babies’ first words. 

Who? Baby book cover

Preschoolers to Kindergarteners 

We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates (Sesame Street) supports young children’s understanding that although we are different in many ways, we are all the same inside. 

6-different-the-sameLovely by Jess Hong is a celebration of what makes everyone unique and how we all are lovely. 

Lovely child book coverThe Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson supports children as they work through the challenge of not feeling that they fit in or are fearful of new environments. 

The Day You Begin children's book cover

The Family Book by Todd Parr, focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other. 

The Family Book children's book cover

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, explores how children accept cultural differences such as names unfamiliar to them and learning acceptance and friendship. 

The Name Jar book cover

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët is a heart-warming story about caring for others and standing up to bullying. 

I walk with Vanessa book cover

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman sets the stage for understanding inclusion with a wonderful story about the children in a school. 

All Are Welcome book cover

Say Something by Peter Reynolds shows children how their voices are valued. 

Say Something Children's book cover

Skin Like Mine by LaTishia M. Perry celebrates diversity in an entertaining way for early readers. 

Skin Like Mine Book Cover

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester is a great book to help parents begin the dialogues with their children. 

Let's Talk About Race book cover

Check out more book recommendations from Goddard parents!

Keep Outdoor Play Simple: Let Nature Supply the Learning.

Dad and two small preschool children going on walk outside on a path

Daily walks or time spent outdoors have recently become part of many families daily routines as the benefits of time spent outdoorsincluding lowering stress levels and combating hyperactivity, are being experienced firsthand. As such, many parents and caretakers are looking for guidance on worthwhile outdoor activities for their children that don’t require a lot of planning or supplies. Below are some ideas for simple, quality outdoor activities that you and your children can do together that don’t require supplies or much planning. 

Activity One – Taking a Walk Outside 

Taking a walk may seem too simple to have any real benefits, but it has many. It is a great gross motor and physical activity for the whole family, especially those still perfecting their walking skills. Even for older children, taking a walk on uneven ground such as over roots in a wooded area or through a park with slopes, arched bridges or hills provides excellent opportunities to practice coordination and helps them learn to navigate varying terrains safely 

Activity Two – Counting Natural Items 

Head outside to your backyard, a nearby park or natural space. Have your children pick an item that they can see more than one of, such as trees, flowers, rocks or even wildlife. Have your children count how many of each item that they see. For infants, talk about what you see and count out loud to them. Older children may even want to practice adding or subtracting the numbers that correlate to different natural items. 

Activity Three – Watching Clouds  

Find an outdoor space with a clear view of the sky. Lay in the grass or on a blanket and ask your children what they see in the clouds. Point out anything that you see in the clouds. Does one cloud look like a dog and another like a tree? Ask your children what they know about whatever they see in the clouds to help develop their critical thinking skills, and identify areas of interest that you can explore together 

Activity Four – Taking a Thankful Walk 

Take a walk around your yard or community and point out natural items that you are thankful for to your children, such as I am thankful for the trees because they provide shade for us on hot, sunny daysI am thankful for the grass because it gives us a soft place to sit outside or I am thankful for the sun because it helps all of the plants to grow. Then ask your children to point out what they see around them that they are thankful for, and why. Depending on what your children point out, you can dive deeper into any topics that they show interest in and help them think critically about the natural world around them.  

Even the simplest of outdoor activities can have numerous benefits for both you and your children. Use your time spent outdoors as a chance to relax and enjoy some quality time together while the learning happens naturally 

Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI 

Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds 

Here are 5 Tips for Working from Home with Children

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Have you ever wondered whether it would be fun to homeschool your children? (Confession, I have not.) But I imagine it could be satisfying and enjoyable if you don’t have another job on the line. Yet, here, we are parents, working one, two or more jobs on top of raising our precious, loud, energetic, no napping, computer touching, toy breaking, bundles of joy. At this point, my son thinks I’ve changed his name to “Don’t Touch That!”

Raising children is a rewarding but tough job. Working at home and raising children is impossible, am I right? Well no, not necessarily. It may not always be easy, but I’ve got some great tips to share with you. They’re curated from my experience and some of my colleagues’ experiences.

So, before you hear “Alexa, play Baby Shark” one more time, check out these work-from-home parenting ideas.

  1. Maintain a routine.

Now more than ever, children need a routine. If your children attend a Goddard School, you’ll have a good idea of what their days entail. Try following this routine to keep consistency in their lives, maintain your sanity and help ease the transition back into a structured learning environment. Even though we don’t know when schools and businesses will reopen, it will happen.

Don’t forget your schedule. You also benefit from following a routine. Get up, get dressed (even if it’s just putting on another pair of sweatpants) and start your day how you normally would when preparing for work.

As you navigate your new normal, stay in touch with your manager and team and let them know you’ll have time to complete things when your children are napping or after they go to bed. Open and transparent communication with your team and managers is the key.

  1. Take breaks!

A twin mama at GSI said she takes breaks to spend time with her children. She does crafts with them or takes them for a walk where they practice number recognition on mailboxes, learn about the local flora and fauna (mostly just squirrels) and play in the mud. Of course, she has plenty of work to do, but she carves out time to be with her twins.

Right now, toddlers through early elementary-school-age see that their parents are home and don’t understand why mom or dad can’t play. My son is beside himself whenever he can’t come into my room. He can be rambunctious and not on his best behavior. I end up feeling frustrated, but when I finally let him in the room, I hold him for a while. It calms him down and he goes on his merry way to play with toy bugs. I continue to underestimate the importance of being present for my little guy. I’m torn in two directions: I want to be a great employee and a stellar mom, regardless of the quarantine and work from home situation. It’s hard to do both but taking breaks to focus on your kids will help.

  1. Share responsibilities with other adults at home, if possible.

During these unprecedented times, hundreds of thousands of American workers are figuring out how to work from home for the first time. If you have a partner at home, sit down to discuss your upcoming week. Share your work schedules so that someone is watching the children while completing smaller work tasks, such as checking emails, giving the other time to be on the phone or join meetings. Then switch! This requires flexibility and juggling, and there may be some mishaps – especially when your littlest co-workers didn’t get the schedule memo – but this method will alleviate some of the stress for adults working from home.

If it’s just you and your children at home, follow tips one and two. When talking with your teammates and manager, be firm and let them know that you may need to work odd hours to complete tasks. Reassure them that your work will get done, just on a different timetable than some of your peers.

  1. Have go-to activities that require little supervision for your children.

A west coast colleague of mine has two children under the age of four. Both she and her husband have been working from home for weeks and are getting the hang of their new normal. She created a visual schedule for her children, using simple pictures that they can recognize and understand. Depending on the day, she typically takes the morning shift with her children and her husband takes the afternoon shift.

Because her children are young, someone must be present with them 24/7. To help ease the stress of juggling little ones and work, she created simple, fun activities that require less vigilance, allowing her time to check and respond to emails while supervising playtime. Here’s one of her ideas.

If the weather is nice outside, have a car wash! It doesn’t have to be a big car, either. It can be just about anything that is waterproof. If the weather isn’t great outside, bring everything inside to the kitchen sink or bathtub.

In an upcoming blog article, we’ll have a list of simple fun activities for children to do while you’re working at home. Stay tuned!

  1. Be kind to yourself.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed on any normal day, but when you throw in working from home and being a stay-at-home parent, everything is magnified. Mistakes may happen and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up over this blip in time. To avoid being crushed under the weight of divergent responsibilities, make things easier when possible.

Yes, you may be relying on screen time and fast microwave meals more often. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Your children won’t remember that they ate SpaghettiOs for lunch every day for a week. And the extra screen time won’t suddenly transform them into YouTube Kids zombies. Right now, things are tough – and that’s an understatement.

In the end, your children will remember that mommy or daddy got to be at home with them. They’ll remember the extra time you got to spend together even if both of you were looking at different screens.

 

Caring for Our Littlest Ones During the Coronavirus Pandemic

caring-for-our-littlest-ones

by Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

We have been asked by many parents of infants how to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. What do I do to make sure my baby is safe?  What if my child doesn’t have all the immunizations yet because she is too young? Should I isolate my family from our friends and close family members?

New parents and almost all parents with infants feel stressed at the best of times.  The COVID-19 crisis adds another layer. It is essential to take a deep breath, wash your hands, cuddle your child and repeat.

The most authoritative publication to date (Report of the WHO-China Joint Commission on COVID-19 /Feb 28, 2020) reported that no young children or infants were positive from November through January. The World Health Organization thinks children may be less susceptible. The very rare cases that have occurred were in families with adults who tested positive. No child-to-child or child-to-adult cases of transmission were reported. We hope this information can help to lessen your worries.

Do not worry if your child has not been vaccinated. Keep up the recommended routine of social distancing, handwashing and regular surface cleaning with standard household products. This routine is smart and is customary with a new infant in the home.

Don’t quarantine yourself from your close friends and family members. As long as they are healthy, without a fever and a cough, it is probably fine to be together in small groups during this tough time. If you need to practice social distancing to keep older family members safe, use this time to video chat and show off the baby’s smiles.

Anyone touching or holding the baby must wash their hands thoroughly first, because washing their hands cleans them better than hand sanitizer, and avoid taking the baby to crowded locations.

Limit your exposure to news and screens, avoid anxiety-ridden calls with colleagues and stay focused on the delights of being with your baby. Take time to sing, talk and read with your child. Just being in the moment with your baby will ease everyone’s stress.

During this stressful time, it is not productive to push ahead with sleep training or toilet training mastery. That is tough enough when all is going well around you. We all need to let ourselves slide back a little to keep our balance.

Remember – take deep breaths, wash your hands, cuddle your baby and repeat.

 

KYLE PRUETT, M.D. 

Through his groundbreaking work in child psychiatry, Dr. Pruett has become an internationally known expert on children, family relationships and fathering. He is a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and is the author of award-winning books Me, Myself and I and Partnership Parenting.

 

The Best Summer Activities for Kids in Every Single State

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School is on hiatus ‘til fall, which means you’ve got approximately 10 weeks to keep the youngest members of your household happily entertained. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with this 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

MILB

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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

Shreveport-Bossier/Flickr

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

MILB

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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.

Plan Your Visit

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

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Get Your Kids to Spring Clean With You

Spring Clean.jpg

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.

Cardboard Tube Bird Feeder

February is National Bird Feeding Month! Invite feathered friends to your yard with some DIY cardboard tube feeders. You and your little ones will enjoy the fruits of your labor when watching the beautiful birds come to eat. To learn even more about your backyard birds, visit the National Audubon Society’s website.

What You Need

  • Plate
  • Birdseed
  • Nut or Seed Butter
  • Cardboard Tube (toilet paper size or half of a paper towel roll)
  • String

Instructions

  1. Pour the birdseed onto the plate and use a spoon, butter knife or Popsicle stick to coat the outside of the cardboard tube with the nut or seed butter.
  2. Roll the coated tube in the birdseed. Fill in any gaps as needed until the whole tube is covered.
  3. Thread a piece of string through the cardboard tube and tie the ends of the string together.
  4. Hang it from a tree for the birds to enjoy!

How to Get the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

If you haven’t already, you will soon receive an invitation to meet with your child’s teacher for a parent-teacher conference. These meetings are intended to complement the brief daily interactions that happen at drop-off and pick-up by providing an opportunity for a more focused and extended conversation about your child. These conferences are an essential building block of positive home-School relationships. When parents and teachers work together as partners, children benefit academically, socially and emotionally. To take the best advantage of the meeting, recognize that you and your child’s teacher share the common goal of nurturing your child to be a curious and confident learner who interacts well with others. This perspective will set the stage for productive conversations about your child’s progress, strengths and challenges.

When interacting with your child’s teacher, plan to spend time sharing information about your child and actively listening to the teacher’s perspective and advice. Each of you has expertise relevant to your child’s learning and development. By taking a collaborative approach, you can work together to identify how best to inspire and support your child as an individual. As you prepare for your part in this conversation, think about the following factors:

  • What would you like to know about your child’s experiences at School? It’s typical in parent-teacher conversations to focus on individual children’s learning progress, but you should also plan to ask about your child’s friendships, classroom behaviors, activity interests and general mood at School. Your child’s views matter too, so find some time before the conference to find out who your child plays with at School, what they like to do and what they think about their teacher;
  • What would you like your child’s teacher to know about your child’s experiences at home? As a parent, you have unique knowledge about your children, and you have a long-term investment in their well-being and success. Sharing your understandings about your child’s skills, temperament and interests can help inform the teacher’s guidance strategies. The teacher also can benefit by knowing more about changes in family circumstances that might affect your child’s experiences at School;
  • What can you do to facilitate your child’s learning at home? Learning extends beyond the classroom and happens anytime and anywhere. Identify ways to build connections between home and School activities to reinforce and enrich the learning that is happening in both environments;
  • How can you make the most of this opportunity to learn about your teacher’s perspective on your child? Focus on listening for understanding instead of listening to reply. Celebrate your child’s achievements, and strive to understand the teacher’s view when talking about areas of need. You may check your understanding by paraphrasing what you hear the teacher saying. This will show a willingness to understand the teacher’s point of view, and it will provide a chance for clarifying any areas in which communication may not have been clear.

As you plan for your parent-teacher conference, keep these tips in mind and approach the conversation as a dedicated opportunity to engage with someone who also wants the best for your child.