Ahhh spring break. That random week when everyone in the world with children under the age of 15 descends on Disney World. True story: I’ve never actually taken a spring break vacation. So this blog is going to be all about fun things to do over spring break that don’t involve airplanes.
How about a Staycation?
Staycationing can introduce your kids (and you!) to a slew of wonders, often within a few hours of your home. Today, we are going to travel through the alphabet in order to list all the places you may be able to take your kids for their week off.
Ready? Let’s head out!
Aquarium – If you don’t have an aquarium in your area, a visit to the local pet store might suffice.
Baby Animals – We are lucky to have a few farms in the area and many open their doors in the spring to let visitors view all the new baby chicks, bunnies, sheet, goats, and pigs. No farms? Consider bowling.
Creeks – Follow the creek along, skip stones, and build a small dam. Have a picnic and learn about the wildlife and plants in the area. One little creek can provide hours of fascination.
Dog park – Even if you don’t have pets, a dog park is a fun place to take kids and let them run around or play fetch with the dogs (fun note: dog owners are usually happy to let your kids wear their dog out – almost as happy as you are to have their dog to wear your kids out).
Exhibits – Art, sculpture, history – or make your own exhibits. Invite your neighbors over, serve cheese and juice, and charge an admission fee.
Festivals and fairs – Spring kicks off the festival season, so see if there are any coming up in your area. If not, consider fishing!
Gardens – Many places offer public parks, estates, or botanical gardens you can walk through. If you can’t find anything like that, spring is also a great time to start planning a garden of your own – even if you just give everyone a few pots, soil, and let them pick their seeds from the local gardening store.
Hotels – You don’t have to go out of town for a hotel stay. The entire family can take a mini-vacation by booking one night at a local inn. Let your kids jump on the beds, pillow fight, order room service, and watch TV in bed. Remember, someone ELSE gets to clean up the mess.
International Markets – You can learn a lot about other cultures from what kinds of foods they sell and … hold on, please. My kids are interrupting my writing as they completely disagree with this idea. They find the international market boring and tell me “I” should be ICE CREAM. Oh well, I tried.
Jump and bounce – The gyms filled with inflatables have been popping (no pun intended … I hope!) up all over the suburbs. These are a great place for kids to run around and burn off some steam.
Kite flying – Just a little wind, a lot of string, and the endless energy of an average 8 year old, and you’ll have a kite that touches the sun.
Library – Check your local library or bookstore to see if they are offering story hours or other group activities over the week. Even if they are not, libraries can be a great alternative to a rainy day.
Museums – I am ashamed to admit we live right outside of Washington D.C., where many of our museums are not only national treasures, they’re also free, yet I’ve only been to handful of them. Spring break is a great opportunity to see museums and other treasures in your town.
Nature Centers – If you don’t have a local nature center, you can take a nature walk and play nature bingo!
Outdoor shows – If the weather is nice, try to find an outdoor venue that offers musical performances or movies. Or, put on your own recital in the backyard – be it theater, singing, musical instruments or dancing, there’s nothing like a performance under the stars. Invite the neighbors over and charge an admission fee.
Parks – Who doesn’t like an afternoon at the park. Pack a picnic and people watch while you’re there!
Quiet time –We have all had to succumb to “Let’s play the quiet game – whoever talks first loses!” once in a while. As effective as that can be for a headache, a mindful, purposeful quiet time can be a lovely experience for everyone. Pile into one bed, grab books and unplug from phones, televisions, and computers. Plan to spend an hour just cuddling, reading quietly, or relaxing. If you happen to fall asleep, so be it.
Restaurants – My family has a tradition called “New Food Dinner” where we go out and have to eat something we’ve never had before. Spring break is a great time to explore new restaurants, new cuisines, or new foods and expand your culinary experiences. My kids are interrupting again: “Mooooommm, you are writing for Cricket Magazine! Shouldn’t ‘R’ be ‘READ?’” … Oh yeah. That, too.
Sports – It doesn’t have to be an organized team sport. Get out and kick the soccer ball a bit, play some Frisbee golf, or shoot hoops.
Tag – There are so many variations of tag, you could play two or three each day for the entire week and still not get through them all. Here are some tag game variations that might inspire you to try a game or two.
Under the Stars – If the nights are not still too cold, bundle up under a blanket and do some stargazing. Spring is a great time to view constellations that are harder to see once the summer humidity and haze rolls in. Need a guide to what you are looking at? How about Mind–Boggling Astronomy or a theme pack all about Outer Space?
Volunteer – Giving back a bit of your spring break to help others is a valuable lesson. There are lots of volunteer opportunities that kids may find fun such as making sandwiches at a homeless shelter, feeding and walking pets at a rescue shelter (with adult supervision), or playing games with residents at a hospital, hospice, or nursing home.
Watch and write – Our family enjoys writing almost as much as reading, so we will sometimes head over to a park (or even a coffee shop) and people watch. We’ll pick a person and write a short story about him or her – and then compare stories after. It’s a great way to flex our creative muscles.
X-Factor – Okay, it’s a stretch, but “X” is a hard letter! Getting X-rays? Not a fun spring break activity. So, consider hosting your own talent show, and having each kid (and their friends) participate. Invite your neighbors over to watch the show, and to serve as judges. Don’t forget to charge an admission fee.
YMCA/YWCA – If you have a Y in the area, take a day and check it out. Y’s encourage active playtime and often have loads of games and activities for kids of all ages. If you don’t have a nearby YMCA, consider spending some time playing in your yard.
Zoo – Again, my family is lucky to be close to DC where the National Zoo is too big to tackle in a single day, so it lends itself to many fun adventures. If you have a zoo nearby, big or small, check it out. If you don’t, make your own. Make “natural” habitats from boxes and crates for the wild stuffed animals I’m sure your kids have. If your neighbors are still talking to you after you charged them to see the art exhibits, the backyard performances, and the X-Factor style talent show, invite them over to visit the zoo. Make sure you charge them.
Cricket Media Mama immediately regretted her decision to not go to Florida this spring break, which officially kicks off this weekend with a prediction of 2” – 4” of snow.