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Family & Pets

Educational Summer Activities For Kids In Sacramento

June 13, 2014 5:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Summer in Sacramento can mean hot temperatures and kids who are fidgety and bored beyond belief. But there is no reason for them to become uninspired couch potatoes or to be obsessed by an endless cycle of video games, texting and social media. There are many great resources in the region that will help pull them away from sofas and electronic devices and get them engaged, involved and fascinated by the world around them.
Mad Science of Sacramento Valley
1808 Tribute Road, Suite E
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 779-0390
www.sacramento.madscience.org

Reading, writing and arithmetic have traditionally been considered the cornerstones of early childhood education, but getting informed and enthused about science is just as important. Mad Science is geared towards kids from preschool to age six, teaching them the building blocks of science in programs that are cleverly disguised as nothing but fun. Everything is hands-on, and the staff members are enthusiastic, motivated and welcoming. Summer programs are available at Mad Science headquarters in Sacramento, and in community centers, schools and parks all over the Sacramento valley. There are preschool summer camps like “Little Green Thumbs,” where they learn about gardening, butterflies, weather and bugs. Dino-Explorers lets four- to five-year-olds explore the prehistoric world and even dig up dinosaur bones. Kids from six to 12 will love the fun and exciting programs including “Spy Academy” where they get to decode messages, gather evidence at faux crime scenes and use science to solve mysteries. “Grossology” lets kids learn about chemistry via the world of earthworms, human digestion and other wonderfully slimy things, and different Mad Labs teach about DNA, electroplating coins, generating power through chemistry and how human and animal bodies function. Build a model rocket and study hovercrafts, aerodynamics, wind tunnels and galactic mysteries at “Flight Academy,” or design under-sea vehicles, build catapults and put together a light saber at the exciting “Eureka” inventor’s camp.

Related: Cooking Ideas For Kids From A Sacramento Chef

Sacramento Public Library
www.saclibrary.org

The public library system in the Sacramento area offers an astonishing range of fun kids’ summer programs that are free or low-cost, and no librarians tell anyone to keep their voices down. There are story time and playtime activities for babies and preschoolers, and kids from kindergarten to 5th grade can learn about cooking and agriculture at “Busy Bees.” The latter program teaches kids why bees are important to crop production in California, and they even get to construct a paper version of an actual bee house. “Paws to Read” is a popular program where children read aloud to animals, improving their literacy while engaging with a nonjudgmental, loving pet. Community food education is available through the California Food Literacy Center, helping children learn about cooking basics, appreciating fruits and vegetables, reading nutrition labels and how the food they eat affects the environment. Staying still and quiet is not the focus of these programs, as evidenced by “Boxcar Dragsters,” where kids learn about speed while putting together dragsters that are powered by balloons. Adults and kids have a great time with “Animal Faces” learning about the wild creatures of California, making animal masks, putting together snacks from critter-friendly foods and reading Helen Oxenbury’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hun.t It can be particularly important for teenagers to have non-electronic forms of intellectual stimulation and entertainment in the summer, and the library system has plenty to offer them too. In addition to teen volunteer programs, there are interactive workshops including one about saving money and establishing good credit.

Volunteer Work

One of the best ways to build a better adult is by getting kids involved early on in giving back to their community. There are a host of worthy nonprofit groups and other charities in the Sacramento area that always need volunteers, and many are appropriate for children and teens. In addition to doing things for the greater good, volunteer work can increase their interpersonal and communication abilities, energy, fitness, skills, enthusiasm and interest in the world around them. No matter what they like or are drawn to, most likely a local charity could benefit from their involvement. Organizations concerned with the environment, animals, health issues, economic growth, family services, children, technology, homelessness, spirituality, education, cultural heritage and food distribution are but a few of the opportunities for youth over the summer and all year around. To learn more, contact the local charity of your choice or visit websites like Volunteer Match or Hands On Sacramento.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.