Fun ways to get out and about during the summer

Summertime is perfect for exploring the world and experiencing adventures with your children. Here are some ideas for launching your own wonder-filled summer discoveries.

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  • The whole wide world awaits your discovery and exploration, why not start this summer? An adventure in the great outdoors will introduce children to new and exciting information, places and people. Preparation and careful planning could include packing a basic first aid kit, plenty of water and healthy snacks for your explorers. Skip the sugary drinks and create infused fruit water by adding cut-up fresh fruits and/or berries to chilled water.

  • Plein Airart at the Zoo

  • Pick up a few sketchbooks and colored pencils and head to the zoo or another outdoor location to draw animals. Take animal crackers and juice and enjoy an art experience in the great outdoors making gestural drawings of animals. This activity is fun, improves drawing skills and teaches children to really look at a subject and refrain from perfectionistic tendencies (animals move - you can't get a "perfect" likeness in your sketch). Later, exhibit the art and have your children talk about their art decisions; why they chose a color and what they learned while watching and drawing.

  • Enjoy art galleries and concerts on the grass

  • Check newspapers and libraries for free evening concerts at local parks or nearby cities. Many art galleries and museums have free admission days for children once a month; enrich their summer experiences by exposing them to great art and music. Pack up a picnic and quilt and dine outdoors while enjoying a concert. For concerts featuring Pachelbel or Debussy or French composers, consider a French picnic. Try German for Beethoven or Handel; American for Sousa or Gershwin or your country's favorites for Independence Day.

  • Visit historic places

  • Whether you are vacationing or staycationing, many communities have historic buildings, battlegrounds and other important places. As you visit these locations, discuss important events that took place and their meaning in your children's lives.

  • Explore family history sites

  • Visit places that have historic significance to your family. Touring homes, cemeteries, old businesses, museums, galleries, hospitals and places where important events occurred helps bond you and your children to loved ones of the past. If your family really gets excited about their roots, you may wish to visit a Family History Library hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Observe starry nights

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  • Visit an observatory or planetarium and learn about the miraculous constellations. Observe the night sky and enjoy the vastness of the universe. In mid-August in the northern hemisphere, you might be able to catch the brilliant shooting stars of the Perseids meteor showers.

  • Enjoy a mini vacation at the beach

  • Spending the day at the beach is fun and educational. A little pre-planning will help you have a positive experience and reduce sunburn and stress.

  • Take a hike

  • Explore a cave or waterfall, tide pool or hillside. Scouts know to stay on the trails, but you might find an (appropriate) grassy hill to slide down.

  • Visit a farm and ranch

  • There are few things more exciting for city kids than visiting a farm or ranch - even if only for a few hours. Children generally love animals and have an immediate connection. Some cities have demo farms that are free to visit. If there are pony rides that is a real treat.

  • Explore careers

  • Many newspapers, television studios, small and large businesses, airports, artist studios, police departments, factories and other professional places welcome groups for tours. Find out your children's current dream jobs and you might be able to help them see themselves in a future occupation.

  • Get wet

  • One of the thrills of summer for most children is the opportunity to splash and swim. From the beach, to waterparks, rivers, wading pools and waterfalls there are wonderful places for cooling off and enjoying the wonders of water. Swim lessons are a life-saving investment that will pay off many times over.

  • Chat by the fire

  • It's interesting to try to explain the primal thrill of a roaring campfire. It brings out the inner pyro in so many. Building a fire, sharing stories, singing songs and eating S'mores is a classic American summer experience. Please be mindful of local fire safety and be very careful but have a wonderful time.

  • There is a reason nature is called "The Great Outdoors" enjoy discovering why with your loved ones this summer.

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Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent, artist and writer. Find her book "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Website: http://www.pammcmurtry.com

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