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Think Outside the Box for February School Vacation Week

In case you didn’t notice, school vacation is on tap for next week. Not heading south? No problem. Our Mom’s Council has some imaginative ways you can spend time with your kids and not lose your mind.

 

Did you happen to notice what’s happening next week?

No, your day trip to the local spa isn’t scheduled for Monday, but something else sure is. Yep, another school vacation week is on tap, and yes, it’s still February, and the holiday vacation was just yesterday.

Our Patch Mom’s Council tipped each other off with some creative, out-of-the-box ways in which they keep our kiddos entertained when the Disney Cruise or all-inclusive African safari doesn’t pan out.

Oh, and most importantly, these suggestions aren’t going to require messy glue, glitter or finger painting with chocolate pudding. And no, we haven’t forgotten our teen sector! There are a few happenin’ ideas for them as well.

Treasure Hunts

Most kids are completely enthralled with the notion of pirates and buried treasure, and there are a variety of ways you can host a treasure hunt that can be done individually or together as a team, indoors or outdoors.

For instance, for a group of little girls you can have a jewelry-making treasure hunt. Get a variety of baubles and bead-making supplies and any other trinkets that are shiny and pretty, and create a clever map with clues that will lead them to the jackpot. Half the fun is figuring out where the items are hiding, and once found, they’ll have some items to create pretty bracelets and such.

Likewise, for boys, you can use a sports theme or a racing theme, and use matchbox cars and cool racing props (Dollar Tree is loaded with finds) that they have to locate and, when they uncover the last one, they can have a race.

For outside treasure hunts, you can print up a list of things they can find right in your own backyard or neighborhood, or why not head to the beach? Take it one step further and roll up the list of clues and stick them in an empty water bottle. (You can’t get more authentic than that!) Check out this treasure hunt posted on Family Fun for a nautical treasure hunt.

Cooking Camp

Last year a group of clever moms created a neighborhood cooking camp. Three families took turns hosting a couple of recipes that they themselves enjoyed making and wanted to share with their kids and their friends.

One house created homemade Belgian waffles with all the fixings and even made homemade hot cocoa by melting real bars of chocolate. Another loved making oven-fried chicken fingers and peanut butter smoothies. Finally, there was a baker in the crowd who found several different pastry and cookie bar recipes to make with the kids.

Each house made their own recipe menu on the computer so that the kids could hang on to the recipes for future use. With St. Patrick’s Day coming around the corner, there is no end to the cutesy little shamrock and “everything green” concoctions you can come up with. Visit Family Fun for these festive recipes that all your leprechauns will go green for! 

Mystery Rides

Most of us can’t tolerate the entire vacation homebound. Why not plan a special daytrip for your kids? Make it a complete surprise by turning it into a mystery ride! This might take a little thought in advance, because you don’t want to pick a location they go to frequently and will figure out the minute you leave your driveway.

If you pick a place like a restaurant you usually don’t frequent or a park or museum you’ve never been to or haven’t visited recently, you can really have fun with this. If you love to shop for unusual gifts, stop at Imagine Gift Store at 5 Miller Street in Warren.

This cool shop is located in the restored former Lyric Theatre and contains three floors of unique and hard to find items, toys, clothing, jewelry and much more. Products for sale include toys, kitchenware, jewelry, gourmet foods, tableware and more. Imagine Gift Store also owns cows that are alumni of Cow Parade, a worldwide public art event. Open year-round, and daily. For more info, call them at (401) 245-4200.

Think about that look of excitement on those little faces when you get up on Tuesday morning and randomly announce you’re taking them for a fun-filled day, but they are going to have to figure it out along the way! C’mon, you can do it!

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

Many kids are always looking for an audience that will listen to what they have to say. What better way than to share their adventures (regardless of how exciting they truly are) than by creating their own vacation newspaper? Most are already computer savvy and can navigate a publisher or other newsletter program by the time they are in grade school.

They can report the latest breaking news such as that baby robin they found injured in the backyard or about how well the soccer team did during the last game, or even write an op-ed about the pros and cons of having to keep their room clean. With all the clip art available, they can add some eye-catching visuals, too. By the end of the vacation week, they’ll have a three-page plus Pulitzer edition of their very own paper and will have spent some time reading and writing without all the fuss.

(Editor’s Note: By the way, as long as they have parental permission, they’re also able to blog on Patch, in case you have some older kids who are getting serious about writing. If you’re interested, shoot an e-mail to lauren.costa@patch.com. – Lauren Costa)

Teen Time

Tweens and teens, you gotta love em. Most are just thrilled to have a week where their only activities include texting, playing on Facebook or sleeping in until dinner. Well, that certainly keeps them out of harm’s way (and out of yours), but teens need a little attention during school vacation week too.

How about putting them in charge of making a couple of meals during vacation week? Give them full range of the menu and why not give them some money so they can even shop for all that they’ll need.

One of our moms tried this over the February break and was pleasantly surprised to come home to stuffed pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes and homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. The meal was delicious, and her son and his friend felt empowered by all the freedom they had in making it all happen without any adult interference.

If you want to splurge for a cool daycation idea, check out Amtrak’s train schedule for trips into Boston leaving from Kingston. Depending on the time of day you travel, you can get tickets for as little as $25. You needn’t spend a lot once you’re there. Hanging out at Faneuil Hall, nibbling on a slice of pizza or stuffed pretzels, and checking out the sights around the city can be fun. Or, if you want to spend a few bucks, the duck tour is always popular as is the Boston Museum of Science.

Redecorating their rooms! Men have them, women crave them and teens really need them—their own “cave” to hang out in and just relax and escape from the rest of the world.

While it may not be possible to dedicate an entire room for this purpose, how about allowing your teen a bit of freedom to freshen up her bedroom with a pop of bold color? As scary as it may seem, wall color may be the perfect place to allow them to express this preference. If you choose relatively neutral bedding and accessories, the painted color can change as their tastes do, and the neutral items can easily be reused.

Seal Watching Tours

From November 2011 through April 2012, Save The Bay offers seasonal seal watching tours aboard M/V Alletta Morris. Expert guides and binoculars are provided for an educational view of these seasonal marine visitors.

Tours are offered on weekends and school vacations, and they’re a great activity for children during the slow days of winter. Boats depart from Bowen's Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square, in Newport. Cost is $20 for a one-hour trips and $30 for two hours, with children under age 5 admitted free. Phone: (401) 324-6020.

Down Day

As you start the vacay week or wind it down, there’s always fun to be had by just hanging out at home for the day, in pajamas if you like, while watching movies, making homemade popcorn balls and of course, finishing the day off with an ice cream sundae bar with all the fixings.

The entire vacation doesn’t have to be planned. In fact, sometimes the best memories are made by just laying low and letting the day unfold without a schedule.

For more in-town ideas, check out our "Get Out-February Vacation Edition" feature.

We’d love to hear some of your fun and outrageous ways to spend a day off with your kids. Please let us know in the comments. Or if you have a question you’d like us to tackle, please e-mail me at CB091987@aol.com or e-mail our editor at Lauren.Costa@patch.com.

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