Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Manchester, NH Vacation Learning Activities for Kids

School Break Doesn't Have to Mean a Mental Break

 

school vacation With free time on our hands now that school is out for winter break, my kids and I resume the learning explorations we put aside when classes began in the Fall. Our time is short, with only two weeks of vacation until school starts again, so we don't want to waste any time. But these ideas are good year round, including the dog days of summer.

A Trip to the Museum
 
Just across the street from us in Manchester, NH is the Currier Art Museum, a private collection of some of the most amazing art available to the public. During school vacation, the museum expects an increase in family traffic, as as such, plans events, hands-on craft projects, and demonstrations geared toward kids. Just before Christmas, the museum is featuring Storytime in the Gallery, where a staff member will read a children's book inspired by one of the works of art on display. Afterward, the kids move to the craft room to make story-inspired art projects of their own. Many local museums have similar programs during break, and a search for community activities will help find what is available.

A YMCA Mini-Vacation
 
Though we are family members at our local YMCA, folks don't have to be in order to enjoy the amenities offered. Ys across the country offer day passes for around $20, or in some cases free with online registration. Be sure to check out the neighborhood location to see what they offer, and plan to spend a day exploring indoor rock climbing, taking tennis lessons, or simply lounging at the pool.

Learning at the Local Library
 
The public library is always a great place to squeeze in some learning as my girls have known since they were little. Our library offers story time on Thursdays, followed by discussion and arts and crafts projects based on the book that was read. We will also browse the racks looking for stories we haven't read and pull up to a cozy corner to absorb our treasures.

Winter Nature Walks
 
We are fortunate to have a few state parks within driving range of the house, so we try and soak in nature every chance we get. Though most of the amenities are closed for the season, the parks do stay open, and we'll spend a day trail blazing through unbroken snow. Before heading out, we make sure to bring along a pack of emergency gear just in case, including high-energy food, extra clothes, maps, a compass, and a fully charged smart phone with GPS capability. Along with our trusty camera, we bring along a free print out of an online nature guide from NH Fish and Game. With luck, we might stumble upon a fisher cat trail as it hunts for it's supper, or the deep imprints of a moose wandering through the waist-high snow drifts.

Genealogy
 
Of course we will see family during the holidays, but vacation lets the girls spend even more quality time with their grandparents. This year, the girls each have a blank, white-paged bound notebook from AC Moore to bring along. They plan on copying the stories told by their grandparents in order to create family history books. Once the stories are transcribed, the girls will illustrate each page. With hot cocoa and grandma's cookies, it's a wonderful way to wind up their winter vacation.