Now that all the presents have been unwrapped and the fervor of Christmas activities are over, your child may feel a little meh. However there are still plenty of fun projects to do. The children here in west Georgia have another week of break left before heading back to school in January. Here’s a list of my favorite things to do.
Take a winter nature walk: Jim and I actually did this yesterday. After attending church, we took a walk on the Greenbelt which runs behind it. This is a great time for getting outdoors. We feel better with the exercise. We’re breathing in clean fresh air. Also our vision is not hampered by spring and summer foliage. Look for beautiful or unusual patterns in the barks of trees. Notice seed pods clinging to trees and bushes which serve as food for a variety of wildlife. Feel the moss growing on trees or on the ground. See how many bird’s or squirrel’s nests you can spot. Even on a cold day, you’ll warm quickly and can look forward to a cup of cocoa when you return.
Decorate a tree for the birds: The birds don’t know Christmas is over, plus it is only the second day of Christmas. String popcorn and cranberries and slice some oranges. to put on a tree which can be viewed from inside. For my tree, I plan to attach some sumac berries with floral wire. And I discovered a recipe for cute birdseed ornaments here which can be made with gelatin using cookie cutters. Have fun decorating, then enjoy the show put on by your feathered friends.
Visit a nursing home. This is such a lonely time of year for residents. As a girl, this was an activity I participated in with my church, but it’s not necessary to be part of an organized group. You may want to call ahead and let the staff know you would like to visit. They can direct you to the people who would most enjoy your company. You might even have your children bring along a short book to read. This can be a great opportunity to discuss the different ways of giving.
How will you and your children spend the remainder of break?
While some women eagerly await Black Friday to get a great deal, I look forward scoring free museum admission during Museum Day Live! National Museum Day 2016 is happening this Saturday September 24. Smithsonian Magazine sponsors this event in which participating museums around the country offer free admission. If you want to increase your knowledge of just about anything -Native Americans, art, trains, textiles,etc. -and make lasting family memories, then go here to search for participating sites in your area. You can print a ticket good for two people, and some sites are accepting the ticket image on your smartphone. Even if you have a conflict on that date, you should check out the website anyway because you’re certain to find a jewel to visit another day.
Let me know in the comments where you would like to go.
Create some art! The SCRAP Bin is one of Carrollton’s gems which many people have yet to discover. When you walk in, you may be reminded of your great aunt who never throws anything away. No matter what you need for your creation, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here: buttons, sea shells, jars, paint, brushes, crayons, bottle caps, fabrics….. And the prices…$ 0.01/ per crayon, so you collect enough for a box, and you have spent only $0.24! A bag of acrylic paints for $1! Give your child a couple of dollars, and she can buy enough supplies to last until school resumes in August.
The SCRAP Bin also offers classes for modest fees; most range from $2 – $5. Following SCRAP Bin on Facebook is the best way to learn about activities. Here is a sampling for June and July:
Summer Camp, June 14 -17, 10:30 – 2:00.
C D Wind Spinners, June 21, 11:30 – 12:30, $2.
Create a Fairy Garden, June 28, $2.
Create a Bird Feeder, July 16, 11:30 – 1:00, $5.
Decorate Picture Frame, July 30, $2.
Another fun activity they sponsor in the summer is Art in the Park. Clues to this weekly scavenger hunt are posted on Facebook. As the name implies, the winner gets the artwork hidden in one of the area parks. What a great way to sharpen those analytical skills this summer!
Finding the store may seem like a scavenger hunt. It is located at 1111 Bankhead Hwy in the former Big Lots shopping center which is across from First Tuesday Mall. Their summer hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 – 2PM. They respond quickly to questions sent through Facebook.
Did you find something you liked in this series? Post photos to my Facebook page here. Please suggest other activities in the comments below.
Explore the Greenbelt. You can stretch this into a summer adventure by taking one segment at a time. The loop contains sixteen miles of paved pathways around Carrollton which you can walk or bike. In fact, you can use any non-motorized mode of transportation. Use this map to choose a starting point. Your journey can become an opportunity to develop your child’s map reading skills. Be sure to make plenty of stops just to enjoy the scenic beauty, listen to birds, and watch wildlife. Near Hobb’s Farm, take a break at the wetlands area overlook. If you’re patient, you’re sure to spot something interesting. Several parks are located on or near the trail so pack a picnic lunch and save some bread for feeding the ducks on Lake Carroll.
If you would like a longer, more strenuous course, try the Silver Comet Trail which extends from 285 to the Georgia/Alabama border. Please comment on any other trails you enjoy.
Natural areas are always favorite places for children to explore. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far or spend much money to take advantage of nature in west Georgia. Summer is an even better time to visit these places due to special interpretive programs offered.
McIntosh Reserve Carroll County operates several parks which offer amenities such as camping, horseback trails, fishing, etc. A favorite destination is McIntosh Reserve which was once home to Creek Chief William McIntosh. It is located on the Chattahoochee River and has a reconstruction of McIntosh’s home. Each month the Friends of McIntosh Reserve sponsor a Walk and Talk program; the next Walk and Talk is Saturday, June 18. University of West Georgia biology professor Frank Fontanella will educate participants on reptiles and amphibians. The program begins at 9AM. For these activities, the normal $5 parking fee is waived, so this is a free event! Find out more about Carroll County Parks and their facilities and the Friends of McIntosh Reserve.
Historic Banning Mills If you’re a West Georgia resident, you have probably heard of their zip line tours. However, did you realize that Banning Mills regularly host “Winged Ambassadors?” As the name suggests, their mission is to educate the public about the value of birds of prey. Everyone in the family will enjoy this show, and the cost is only $5/person. There are several opportunities available to see this program. Get all the dates here, but be sure to call 770-834-9149 for confirmation as dates are subject to change.
Sweetwater Creek State Park Special programs are scheduled throughout the summer, and many are tailored toward children. There’s program fee (several are $3 -$5 per person) plus $5 parking fee, but remember you can check out a parking pass at your local library. Children will love Snakes Alive, Dragonfly Discovery, and Children’s Nature Hike. Get details such as dates and fees at gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek
Great memories are made at summer camp. Today’s post features one overnight and several day camps.
Camp Grandview This is the Salvation Army’s camp for children located in Jasper, GA. They have three spaces available for June 20 – 25, for girls ages 7 – 12. Campers have a great time as evidenced by this video. The camp is free; transportation is provided by bus from Carrollton. If interested, you must act quickly. Parents or guardians will need to complete an application at the Carrollton Service Center, located at 115 Lake Carroll Blvd, provide a copy of the child’s vaccination record, and a physical report of good health (must have been performed within the past year) by Friday, June 10. For more information, call 770-830-0120 . For readers who live in other areas, contact your Salvation Army service center for camp information.
Carrollton Cultural Arts Camps. These day camps meet Monday through Friday. They offer both visual and performance art camps so your child can develop her creative side. The art camps range from free to $50 and include supplies. The theater camps conclude with a live public performance on the following Saturday evening; admission fee is $2. Primary theater camp is open to children ages 4 – 7 and costs $45. The children’s theater camp is for ages 8 – 12 and costs $75. Go here to learn more.
University of West Georgia Camps. Whatever your child’s age or interest, UWG continuing education has a camp for him! This is also a great way to sneak in some academics this summer; check out all the choices for these day camps. Both half day and full days are offered. The costs range from $79 to $300/camp.
Today, I’m singing the praises of West Georgia’s regional libraries system’s summer reading program. When I was a child, our weekly visits to the local library were a treat. Just browsing in an air conditioned building and leaving with an armload of books motivated me to read all summer long. Now libraries offer incentives for reading and attending programs in which special guests entertain and educate at the same time. Some of the offerings this summer are magic shows, storytelling, Lego mine meld, and animal shows, including a reptile show at the Dog River library. Many offer a different program for teenagers; I noticed “broomball” on the calendar for the teen reading program at the Neva Lomason library. Be sure to check out all the different libraries’ programs. In addition to its summer reading program, the Douglas county library has visiting reading therapy dogs. I love the idea of reading a story while petting a dog. The dogs have a calming effect on the children, and the child can choose any book she wants to read. All of these programs are free of charge; go here to sign up your child for summer reading. To learn more about the reading therapy dogs at the Douglas county library, go here.
How does a day trip sound? Georgia has over sixty state parks and historic sites, and each has something unique to offer. Need another reason to visit? You can check out a ParkPass kit from your public library which will save you the $5 parking fee at the state parks. The historic site pass gives free admission for up to four visitors.
Once you find a destination, click the link to that park’s website for activities and special events. You may want to go when you can take a guided nature walk or enjoy another interpretive program such as learning about reptiles. There may be an event fee for some programs so contact the site if unsure. If the park has a lake, check for canoe or paddleboat rentals.
Go to your local library and ask for the state park or historic site pass. You can check it out for one week.
This opportunity comes once each year- the Friday preceding Mother’s Day. Many public gardens around the country participate in National Public Gardens Day by offering free or discounted admission. As you may have gathered from previous posts, I love spending time outdoors, and I enjoy learning about flora and fauna. Two years ago, Jim and I took advantage of National Public Gardens Day to visit Callaway Gardens. We had such a great time! We attended a birds of prey program where the birds flew low over our heads from one handler to the other. On the guided wildflower hike, we not only saw many varieties of native flowers but spotted a tree frog and a couple of queen snakes. The many species of butterflies in the Day butterfly center amazed me. There was always a staff member nearby to answer questions, and we have continued to add to our knowledge with a butterfly field guide purchased from the gift shop.
So be sure to check for a garden near you to visit on May 6. I wish I could visit them all. Which gardens have you visited?
Do you homeschool? Do you need an idea for a frugal and educational field trip? Zoo Atlanta has a great program through the Georgia public library system. Go to your local library, check out the Zoo Atlanta Library Pass DVD from the front desk. When you return the dvd, you will receive a receipt valid for fourteen days for admission to Zoo Atlanta. This offer is good for general admission for up to four. Did you know about this program? Have you taken advantage of it?