Are you looking for new ideas to keep your child entertained and engaged this holiday break? Explore your community for fun and educational outings for the whole family. Here are four fun ways you and your child can spend time together—and learn or experience something new.
Planetariums or Observatories
Reach out and touch the stars at a planetarium or observatory. These can be hugely entertaining for your budding astrophysicist or rocket scientist, but even a casual visitor will enjoy taking in the wonders of the universe in a totally different way. Many facilities offer opportunities to view the stars through telescopes with a trained astronomer. Pack some blankets and a thermos of hot cocoa for a night of “holiday lights” that your family won’t soon forget. Visit www.go-astronomy.com/planetariums.htm for a list of planetariums and observatories in your state.
Wildlife Parks and Refuges
Wildlife parks and refuges often offer special winter programming that highlights how local plants and animals adapt to winter conditions. Whether you brave the outdoors or opt to enjoy the visitor’s center, one major benefit to visiting these types of attractions in winter is the lack of crowds. Check with your local, state and national parks and wildlife departments for events and programs for families and kids.
Theater, Ballet or Orchestra
December is a prime month for family-friendly holiday performances of all kinds. Take your family to one of the many known seasonal productions and read the story before or after the performance. Other performances such as The Nutcracker are a perennial family favorite, and orchestras often present programs of holiday music that listeners of any age can enjoy. Look for opportunities to meet the performers so that your child can get a backstage glimpse into how these artists do their work.
A tour of a local business, manufacturing facility or other factory is a great way for your child to see and learn how things work. Check with your state or local chamber of commerce to find out what companies in your area offer tours of their production facilities—retail manufacturers or distributors, food producers or other organizations may offer tours and informational sessions about the steps that go into making their products. Often, these sessions incorporate local history, fun facts, and science and engineering concepts. As an added bonus, these tours are often free.
Use a little creativity to explore the many educational outings available in your area—beyond the standard museums and zoos. Look into visiting your local news station or newspaper. Consider taking a self-guided tour of a nearby college. Check independent movie theatres for educational films or documentaries for your older child. Better yet, try a few different options. Your child will be sure to have a wonderful story or two to tell when someone asks, “What did you do over holiday break?”