6 quirky, kid-approved activities that will teach and inspire

A collection of unique, family-oriented activities that will promote learning and fun.

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  • As a child, I spent my days wandering the great outdoors exploring "magical forests," sneaking around "haunted castles," and hunting for "lost treasure." Now that I am a mother with three children of my own, I am always on the lookout for the next quirky adventure. Below are six of our favorite activities.

  • 1. Fossil Hunting Expedition —

  • What better way to spend the day than learning about the ancient life that once inhabited this globe. Fossils can be found throughout the world, and your children will be amazed and enthralled when they discover their very own fossil.

  • Before you go

    • Find fossil locales in your area. You can search for areas to hunt by running a quick Internet search. Local libraries often carry rock hound books and guides for your area.

    • Learn about fossils and paleontology

    • Visit your local natural history museum

    • Learn about the type of fossils that can be found in your area

    • Check local, state, and federal laws

    • Check private and public land regulations

  • Things you'll need

    • Gloves and backpack

    • Rock hammer and chisel (Flat-tipped screw drivers work great)

    • Maps and GPS

    • Guide books and identification guides

    • First aid kit

  • Remember to stay safe

    • Avoid areas that seem unstable

    • Never leave kids unattended

    • Watch for snakes and other venomous insects.

    • Use common sense and respect the land

  • 2. Explore an Old Ghost Town -

  • Ghost towns offer an invaluable look into our past. Whether you visit a site complete with vacant buildings or the mere shadow of an old foundation, there is a lot to learn and see, and you can almost bet a trip to just such a place will spark your children's interest and set their imaginations soaring.

  • Before you go

    • Find ghost towns in your area by searching the Internet or visiting your local library. Most libraries and city-offices keep an extensive collection on the history of an area.

    • Read and learn about the town you plan to visit. Get to know its history.

    • Find photos from the past. Get a copy and bring it with you when you go.

    • Learn about the people who once lived in that area.

    • Check all local, state, and federal laws. There are federal laws in place prohibiting the collection of artifacts and relics.

    • Check private and public land regulations.

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  • Things you'll need

    • Maps and GPS

    • Camera

    • Binoculars

    • Copy of old photos and histories

  • Remember to stay safe

    • Many ghost towns sprouted because of a mine or mines in the area. Be acutely aware of any open mine shafts or tunnels.

    • Never enter an open mine shaft

    • Keep children close, and avoid areas that look unstable

    • Use common sense and respect the site. Don't vandalize or destroy buildings.

  • 3. Visit an Archaeological Site

    • This is a terrific way to expose children to the rich and diverse cultures of the areas in which we live. Be prepared for a day filled with fun and unique learning opportunities.
  • Before you go

    • Local universities and museums are an excellent resource to help you discover current sites.

    • Check with your local tourism office for areas of interest.

    • Visit a local museum to view artifacts that provide an excellent visual learning opportunity.

    • Learn about archeology and the role of an archaeologist.

    • Check all local, state, and federal laws. There are federal laws in place prohibiting the collection of artifacts and relics.

  • Things you'll need

    • Maps and GPS

    • Camera

    • Binoculars

  • Remember to stay safe

    • Most sites are developed for tourism. Follow all the rules and stay on designated paths.

    • Keep off any structures

  • 4. Nature Scavenger Hunt

    • Whatever locale you find yourself near deserts, wetlands, mountains, or your local park we are surrounded by the beauty of mother nature. Create a fun, age-appropriate list and head out for a day of learning and discovery.
  • Before you go

    • Learn about the wildlife in your area

    • Create a fun list that is age and location appropriate.

    • Create a nature journal, where your kids can log or draw items they find and see.

    • Make a display case to present unique items your children collect.

  • Things you'll need

    • List(s)

    • Specimen jars

    • Notebook and pencil

    • Binoculars

    • Magnifying glass

    • Butterfly net

    • Camera

    • Identification guides

    • First aid kit

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  • Remember to stay safe

    • Stay with your group

    • Avoid poisonous plants.

  • 5. Tour an Old Cemetery —

  • Though at first this may seem a little morbid, there is a lot to learn when visiting an old cemetery. Who were the early settlers in your area? How far back do the tombstones date? What was life like during the early days of our history?

  • Before you go

    • Learn about the history of the area

    • Learn about the different eras. What was life like during the 1800s? The 1920s?

    • Who is buried there? Learn about an individual's life.

    • Visit the public archives

  • Things you'll need

    • Notebook

    • Camera

    • Old photos or histories you've found.

  • Remember to stay safe

    • Keep off of the old tombstones

    • Follow all cemetery rules. Be respectful and quiet.

    • Do not disturb the graves or remove decorations.

  • 6. Rock Hound for Minerals

  • -Minerals are so diverse and amazing to discover. Just like finding buried treasure, your children will be enthralled as they unearth crystals and unique stones.

  • Before you go

    • Find mineral locales in your area. Often you can search for areas to hunt by running a quick Internet search. Local libraries often carry rock hound books and guides for your area as well.

    • Learn about minerals and how they are formed.

    • Visit your local natural history museum

    • Learn about the type of minerals that can be found in your area

    • Check local, state, and federal laws

    • Check private and public land regulations

  • Things you'll need

    • Gloves and backpack

    • Rock hammer and chisel (Flat-tipped screw drivers work great)

    • Maps and GPS

    • Guide books and identification guides

    • First aid kit

  • Remember to stay safe

    • Avoid areas that seem unstable

    • Never leave kids unattended

    • Watch for snakes and other venomous insects.

    • Use common sense and respect the land

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Mandi Tucker Slack is an author of clean romantic-suspense novels, and is a mother to three.

Website: http://www.mandituckerslack.com

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