An occasional lazy July afternoon with nothing to do is the trademark of a great summer. Finding something, anything, to fill that nothing is the goal of every bored kid, who lounges around the family basement with his long faced friends. It’s almost impossible to fill up the entire summer with family activities and events, and as adults looking back, some of the best things that ever came from summer were the brilliant ideas concocted while belly-aching with friends about how there’s nothing to do.
It may be too late to book a good vacation or drive off to a major theme park, but it’s not too late to take a different kind of trip. Here are some easy, new ideas that will help your kids, and you, survive the slow days of summer—and all of it can be done on the family computer.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that the mountains he could see in the distance behind his family farm taught him the art of longing. Children love to day dream about far away places. There are few childhood memories that are better than when your whole family planned the family vacation. Those days leading up the big moment were as vivid as the vacation itself. Why not sit down with your kids and dream up a fun vacation plan. You don’t need to actually shove off this summer, plan it for next summer. The whole fun of this idea is sitting around with your kids and teaching them the art of longing.
A Vacation on the Web
There is no need for brochures or maps; the fun of this activity is doing it online. Set up the family computer so everyone has a good view, gather around chairs or bean bags, or move the computer to the kitchen table. Start with the big theme parks: www.disneyworld.com, www.legoland.com, www.seaworld.com, or www.universalstudios.com. You can view their attractions and talk about when you did similar things as a kid. Be animated with the kids and get excited! Remember how you danced around the house when your parents announced plans to go on a family vacation. This could also be a great time to teach kids to save money and work hard around the house in order to save for the anticipated event.
Go to The Zoo
Visiting the best zoos in the world is out of reach for most families, but there’s no reason you can’t have a roaring good time online. There are several major zoos that not only offer a glimpse of their lions, tigers, and bears, but they also have actual live-cams so you can see what all the ticket holders are looking at. Try these great zoos online: www.sandiegozoo.org, www.okczoo.com, www.bronxzoo.com, www.kidszoo.org, www.nationalzoo.org.
Visit a museum
The best museums in the world are now online! You can easily visit The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum, and The Smithsonian Museums with the click of your mouse. Take your kids on a trip to London, New York City, Venice, Bilbao, Berlin, and Washington D.C. all in a few days. Each of the museum’s websites has activities for kids and families. This is a great way to introduce your children or grandchildren to other cultures, languages, and ideas. Here are a few websites you might enjoy. www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk, www.metmuseum.org, www.guggenheim.org, www.si.edu.
Visit U.S. National Parks or National Parks In Other Countries
Now it’s easy to visit national parks around the world. Discover different species of spiders, kangaroos, butterflies, and even weeds and plants from other countries. Visit Yellowstone National Park and let your child see what it takes to earn a Junior Park Ranger Certificate. Visit the Outback of Australia and New South Wales. Discover the castles of Pembrokeshire, England! www.nps.gov, www.us-national-parks.net, www.yellowstone-natl-park.com.
Go around the world
Open your family’s vision of the world by visiting some of the websites listed below. By going to earthcam.com, you can see places like: Times Square, Ground Zero, Space Labs, Downtown Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Venice, Dublin, and London (to name a few). By visiting coolantarctica.com, your family can learn about penguins, hypothermia, and different whale species. Take a few hours this summer to explore the world with your kids! www.nationalgeographic.com, www.coolantarctica.com, www.earthcam.com.
The Internet holds a world of new adventures and learning. With all of the potential problems associated with being online, introducing your kids to some of these fun and interesting sites can provide them with hours of wholesome fun. With all the bad in regards to the Internet, there’s still a lot of good, and participating together will be a great way to reinforce the idea that you’re interested in what they’re doing online. Exploring the web as a family will tell your kids that computer time doesn’t need to be a “private” activity.
Some of the websites listed here will take your children to places that most of us may never have a way of ever experiencing first-hand. Take part in your cyber-vacation planning as a family and dream of some of these far-away places together (it may even spark next year’s getaway idea). Just a mouse and an imagination are all you’ll need to see the world and learn from its treasures.