When we first started to throw around the idea of packing up our pre-school aged kids and hitting the backcountry we were pretty nervous. I was not confident that I could shoulder a pack for any length of time and there seemed to be so many barriers to such an undertaking and some pretty large scale things that could go wrong (hello bears). However, it turned out that our biggest challenge was overcoming our uncertainties and heading out on our first trip.
As the source and sustainer of life water is an important element. There are myriad opportunities to explore the water - from a neighbourhood creek to the mighty ocean. Because water is everywhere. it is easy to engage in sustained learning about the water cycle, water-based ecosystems and even water in myth with your kids
We love driving together as a family. Often our trips are just as much about the travel as they are about the destination. Sometimes we may just head out on a drive that ends up taking us nowhere in particular but becomes a day's adventure. Hitting the road lets you see much of the area you are traveling up close and provides the flexibility of stopping your the car at any time to experience the serendipitous.
Sometimes the best way to learn about animals is to visit with them up close and in person. While it is important to consider ethical issues with zoos and visit those that meet high standards, a visit to the zoo can be an opportunity to bring life to kids' learning. Nothing beats the moment when a kid and an animal are staring into each others eyes with mutual curiosity.
Camping is probably one of the best ways to completely immerse your family in nature. Whether you are RVing or spending multiple days in the backcountry, you will run into many opportunities to push your boundaries and explore. While many people find it intimidating, we find that tenting can be doable with kids of all ages, including infants, if you are sufficiently prepared.
Public gardens can be wonderlands of ponds, waterfalls and flowerbeds beyond what even the most talented gardeners can create at home. They provide beautiful, calm getaways for the whole family to enjoy. They are also important preserves of nature for apartment dwellers and others who do not have easy access to their own outdoor space.
Growing a garden is a magical, hands-on way to experience nature. Even if you don't have room for a large garden try a small raised bed or some pots of vegetables and herbs on your balcony. Most kids are fascinated by growing plants and love the chance gardening offers to get their hands dirty and play with creepy crawlies.
A wonderful way to get the most out of your car travels is to take in the sites that lie just beside the road. Road side attractions can be cheesy but oh so much fun. There can also be beautiful bits of nature and important historical sites just off the road. Make it a habit to stop at points of interest and viewpoints as you travel. You will be surprised by the many intriguing things you see that you might otherwise have missed.
Historical sites come in all shapes and sizes and can provide amazing opportunities for learning as a family. Many incorporate information and activities aimed at kids of varying ages. We love bringing our kids to historical sites and having a fun time exploring together. Don't hesitate to take even the youngest of kids - the immersive, often hands-on, experience of travelling back in time has something to offer for all.
Most kids love the fast paced action of the amusement park. While it may not initially come across as a destination rich in learning opportunities, the amusement park is filled with many rich STEM concepts. From the trajectories of roller coasters to the science of motion sickness, we can learn a lot at the park and have fun while doing it. Amusement parks are also an opportunity to come face to face with fear and learn to overcome it. You may not want to attempt to make your time at the amusement park too full of learning activities but by adding some thought provoking prompts before and after an amusement park outing you can open your kids eyes to the science that is all around them.
Local parks can range from manicured gardens to intense wilderness areas in the city. They offer chances to gather with others as well as to explore the outdoors. While many people take advantage of parks in the summer do not forget to visit park areas in your community during the colder months as well.
While many families happily incorporate creating art into their learning together, some are still intimidated by visiting an art gallery with kids. You may assume that art galleries are not kid friendly destinations or may be uncertain about how to approach conceptual or modern art. But worry not! Many galleries go to great lengths to engage kids and families, creating family friendly spaces and activities.
While many guides to family travel accommodations focus on the perks that some resorts and hotels offer kids we find that these are overrated. Who wants to spend time in a hotel playroom when there is a new destination to explore? In fact, what parent wants to spend time in a hotel playroom - period.
Our intention with this site is not to help parents create little Einsteins by artificially turning every activity into an educational experience. Rather it is to recognize the many places in the world around us that, when viewed with a curious gaze, can enrich our families and broaden our understandings.