By Kim McNeill
While most parents I know don’t truly despise having their kid’s home from school, vacation weeks do put a kink in our standard routines.School children these days get bored really easily. But, with a little planning, you can keep the little ones away from mindless screen time and enjoying fun time.Here are some ideas on what you can do with the brood this Spring Break.
Maritime Aquarium Vacation Camps
10 North Water St
Norwalk, CT 06854
(203) 852- 0700
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily
Admission: Call for camp admission prices
Spring Break Camp
If you want to make sure your kids have as much fun as possible under someone else’s watch, check out spring break camps. Nature centers that have regular classes or summer camps will often have a special spring break camp.
If you want your kids to be worn out, try signing them up for the Triathlon Camp. They will spend time biking, swimming, and running. It should make for a very quiet evening.
If your children like hands-on experiences, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk offers vacation camps. The kids can get a close up look at sea creatures.
When was the last time you visited the other side of the state? Or even the middle? Take a couple of day trips and enjoy some of the great places Connecticut has to offer.
Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd
Sturbridge, MA 01566
(800) 733- 1830
Admission: Children under Age 3: Free; Youth Ages 3-17: $7; Adults: $20, Seniors 65 and over: $18
In Eastern Connecticut
You cannot go wrong spending the day at Mystic. Visit the Seaport and the aquarium for a very full day. Another day could be spent in the New London area with the Essex Steam Train and touring the USS Nautilus, which has free admission. For more military history in Connecticut, visit Fort Griswold State Park.
Still in the east and just over the border into Massachusetts is Old Sturbridge Village. Learn about life at the very cusp of the Industrial Revolution in 1830. Costumed guides go about their daily business while explaining about how they live. Old Sturbridge Village has special programs during breaks.
In Western Connecticut
In Norwalk, you will find the Maritime Aquarium, with exhibits all about Long Island Sound and the local Atlantic Ocean habitat. Stepping Stones Museum for Children has a number of fun exhibits to explore for the under-10 crowd that can easily take a whole day.
The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport is good for learning about the animals of North America. Make a day of it by also visiting the Discovery Museum – a great spot in Bridgeport for kids younger than 10 who enjoy science-oriented fun.
Further east along the shoreline is New Haven. The Yale Peabody Museum is great to visit for most of the day. See real dinosaur and mammoth fossils (even the big one) without the hassle of heading into the city. Walking around the Yale campus offers some lovely, old architecture and you can visit Yale’s Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery.
The Northwest Hills offer hiking in various locations and Action Wildlife Park where you visit a petting zoo and see elk, emu, sheep, reindeer, llamas, ibexes, and more.
As the capital of the state, Hartford is full of wonderful experiences. For the historically minded, visit the Mark Twain House, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and the Old State House. The Wadsworth Atheneum houses a wonderful collection and is worth visiting, especially the new Wyeth exhibit. The Connecticut Science Center is also full of activities to keep kids thinking.
Keeping Busy at Home
My first stop during a long vacation week is the library. Each of the kids will pick out books, a movie, and maybe even some music CDs. Another important part of each break week for us is to schedule play dates: Play dates are usually welcomed easily by the other parents who are also trying to keep their kids entertained during the long holiday.
I also like to remember that my kids need down time as well. They may choose to read, work on a project, do puzzles, or really get out with their bikes or scooters.
For a rainy day, I bring out a basket of art and craft supplies. I keep some nicer art supplies and paper for my older daughter with a “how to draw” book. My younger kids enjoy construction paper, glue, scissors and glitter. For really long days, I usually have a little extra insurance in the form of a new, inexpensive toy.
Kim McNeill writes at Nutmeg Families, is a publisher ofMacaroni Kid of Southbury, Middlebury, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford, Connecticut, a hyper-local community website for families, and also blogs about more Connecticut family fun at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.