As we all know, after two or three days off of school, it’s not unusual for your son or daughter to start proclaiming “I’m bored,” so treat your child to something they may not get enough of — quality time with you. And with this quick list of 8 suggestions, you should easily find a few new ideas to keep you and your little ones busy. You may even regret when school resumes after the week’s up!
By Karin Fabry & Amy Mangan
Photo by John Jernigan
1. Get Grossed Out!
Learn about some of the slimiest, stinkiest, and downright yuckiest creatures on Earth. You may think leeches are pretty gross but they’re used after some surgeries to assist in the healing process. Did you know that cows are one of the gassiest animals on earth? Learn why the dung beetle is nature’s living pooper scooper. Oozing with disgusting science and interactive learning games, the all-new Animal Grossology exhibit is sure to provide a unique perspective on the animal kingdom.
Our Body: The Universe Within is an eye-opening human anatomy exhibit featuring actual human specimens on display. By presenting more than 200 real human specimens in a compelling environment, guests connect with these human artifacts on a personal level as they use them to better understand their own bodies. Perfect for both adults and children!
Both exhibits are at the Orlando Science Center, (407) 514-2188.
2. Experience America’s Pastime
There’s nothing quite like eating a hotdog in the baseball stadium while singing along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” This is American nostalgia at its finest. Now you can get up close and personal to all the action! See your favorite players as they practice for the upcoming baseball season. The Atlanta Braves are once again returning to Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando to kick off their spring training schedule. Reserve your tickets now at mlb.com for these Spring Break-week games:
Mar. 27 Detroit Tigers 7:05pm
Mar. 29 Cleveland Indians 1:05pm
Mar. 30 Chicago White Sox 7:05pm
Mar. 31 Chicago White Sox 1:05pm
3. Sleep Under the Stars
Cuddle up to nature where you’re only a step away from one of the most beautiful rivers in the state of Florida. Nestled in the state-owned park of scrub, pine trees, and all sorts of diverse habitat, the Silver River State Park is a perfect vacation for nature lovers. The cabins provide comfortable amenities for guests and you’re just a stone’s throw from the impressive Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center — enough to thrill big and small kids alike. Make sure to pack plenty of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate! Silver River State Park, NE 58th Avenue, Ocala. (352) 236-7148. floridastateparks.org/silverriver
4. Create Some Art in the Park
Kids love to color, paint, draw, and otherwise just be creative! Instead of sitting at the kitchen table to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, head outside to some of Marion County’s scenic parks with your crayons and markers! Places like Carney Island, Horseshoe Lake, and the Brick City Park will inspire those creative juices. Encourage the kids to draw what they see! You might also want to check out the Veterans Memorial Park where your children can do pencil etchings of the memorial plaques. Go to marioncountyfl.org/parkdirectory for a complete listing of park locations.
5. Explore Your Neighborhood
Grab some cameras for the kids with an assignment — find the prettiest flower in the neighborhood, funniest sign, most colorful door, scariest looking pet, well, you get the drift! Write the photo shoot items on an index card so the little photographers can check them off as they click away. The fun part? Heading to the photo center. When the prints are ready, place them in a photo album and ask the children to write a story about their photographic subjects. It will be a treasured keepsake for years to come.
6. Take a Hike — Literally!
How cool would it be to actually walk down into a sinkhole? Well, you can! Visit the Lake Eaton Sinkhole where you’ll find an abundance of plant and wildlife. The Lake Eaton Sinkhole winds through palmetto and deer moss to a dry sinkhole about 80 feet deep and 450 feet wide. A choice of three different routes leads to the rim of the sinkhole, where an observation deck allows you to take in the magnitude of this geological feature. For more information call (850) 523-8500. Take you camera and a picnic lunch and enjoy!
7. Visit Our State Capitol
“I pledge allegiance to the flag…” It’s a familiar saying to all of us, adults and kids alike. How many of us, however, have actually seen our government in action? Did you know the state capitol buildings are open to the public? One of four tower Capitols in the U.S., Florida’s state capitol features panoramic views from the 22nd floor observatory/art gallery and House and Senate viewing galleries. View the recently installed soaring crescent of dolphins by sculpture artist Hugh Bradford Nicholson. Group tours are available by reservation. The Capitol is open Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm. Tours are free. The Capitol is located in downtown Tallahassee on South Duval Street.
After you’ve seen our government officials’ workplace, take a quick trip over to the Old Capitol Museum on South Monroe Street. Open Monday-Friday 9:00am-4:30pm, Saturday 10:00am-4:30pm, and Sundays and holidays from 12:00-4:30pm. Free.
8. Frolic with Fido
Take one morning and pack up the kids and the dogs and head over to the Millenium Dog Park at Jervey Gantt Sports Complex. The park has two separate areas — one for small dogs and one for large dogs. During the summer the park is open from 8am-7pm and in the winter months it’s open from 8am-5pm. Bring your dog’s favorite ball or Frisbee. For a complete list of rules and regulations, visit milleniumdogpark.com. (352) 732-8655.
Need Even More Ideas?
Check out the book 365 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They’re Too Old to Enjoy Them by Bill Adler Jr. The book is recommended for parents with children between the ages of 3 and 13 and is available for checkout at the Ocala Public Library (headquarters), Freedom Public Library, and the Forest Public Library. You can also purchase the book at area book stores and at Amazon.com.