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It's finally Spring! Many Richmond-area schools have Spring Break on the calendar in late March and early April. How will you keep the kiddos entertained while helping them learn a thing or two without giving them unlimited screen time?
Relax, Commonwealth Law Group has got you covered. Here are some creative ways to keep kids smiling and engaged for the week, whether you're out and about or closer to home.
For Nature Lovers
On the Town:
Richmond has a wide selection of parks where kids can explore, learn about plants and animals, or play tag or catch.
First up: Maymont. The flowering trees are in bloom on the 100-acre Victorian estate-turned-public-park, with something for everyone.
- Maymont Farm features farm animals and wildlife exhibits open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with a suggested $5 donation. Your kids can interact with sheep, chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits, pigs, cows, donkeys and horses. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it!
- A visit to the Robins Nature Center at Maymont, open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ($4 for ages 13-59, $3 for kids ages 4-12) is an aquarium-filled extravaganza where you'll marvel at native Virginia species, including alligators (yes, they live in northern North Carolina and have been spotted in southern Virginia), fish, crabs, North American river otters, salamanders, sea horses, snakes (both venomous and non-venomous), turtles and frogs. You might even see the herd of bison and whitetail deer outside.
- If it's a beautiful day, enjoy a nature walk around Maymont's manicured Japanese and Italian gardens. The stepping stones across the pond are sure to make your little ones feel daring and adventurous.
Unsure how to navigate the sprawling estate? There's an app for that: download the izi.TRAVEL app and search for Maymont to locate and access the free mobile tour.
Across town at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, daffodils, tulips, bluebells and cherry blossoms are in bloom. The Garden's Kid Quest scavenger hunt, available at the admissions desk, helps kids explore the 50-acre retreat. In the Children's Garden you'll find hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, watering and digging opportunities, plus your kids can test their climbing skills in the CWDKids Treehouse for bird's-eye views. Don't miss the Butterflies LIVE! Exhibit, April 6 – October 14 in the Conservatory: beautiful butterflies flutter, flitter and take flight all around you. Hint: wear a brightly colored shirt, and they may mistake you for a flower! Admission to the Garden is $13 adults, $11 seniors 55+ and $8 for kids ages 3-12
Closer to Home:
Arrange a scavenger hunt for your kids around the neighborhood or in your own backyard. Can they spot a red cardinal? A yellow daffodil? A pointy leaf? A round leaf? A pinecone? An ant? A squirrel? A dandelion? They'll have fun exploring and crossing items off their list. You can print a free list of items to search for here.
For Movie Buffs
On the Town:
When April showers loom, you have to think fast to entertain your scholars on sabbatical. With Sherlock Gnomes, Peter Rabbit and a Wrinkle in Time in theaters, seeing a movie is an entertaining indoor option. Movieland at Boulevard Square offers Super Value Tuesdays where all seats for all shows are $7, and popcorn is $5. Regal Cinemas offer reduced matinee pricing before 3 p.m.; download the Regal Mobile App to access monthly discounts and specials.
Closer to Home:
Encourage your kids to make their own movie. They can riff on the plot line of a current favorite movie or tv show to create their own Oscar-worthy production—and even sing or lip sync for an added touch. Capture the movie magic on your phone—think how delighted grandma and grandpa will be to see their acting debuts!
For Friends of the Animals
On the Town:
More than 2,000 animals call the Metro Richmond Zoo home—and they love it when you visit: Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Kids can come face to face with giraffes and feed them by hand or watch the penguin feedings (daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). The super-playful cheetah cubs, born July 2017, are on exhibit for all to enjoy. Zoo admission is $17.75 for ages 12-59 and $11.75 for kids ages 2-11. But if you love the zoo as much as we do, a yearly membership, which pays for itself in just three visits, may be your best value.
The Zoo's Treetop Zoofari is Richmond's first zip line and adventure park, where 16 zip lines take kids and adults over 3,000 feet as they soar above monkeys, kangaroos, giraffes, antelopes, tapirs and toucans. Height requirement: you must be at least 54 inches tall to participate.
Closer to Home:
If you have pets, why not try baking your own delicious dog biscuits or cat treats for them? This recipe for homemade peanut butter dog treats will make Rex feel like a king. Tuna-based cat treats are a healthy choice for even the most finicky feline. If you don't have dogs or cats, try making peanut butter bird treats to hang from tree branches outside—your kids can watch which birds come to enjoy the buffet!
Kids love to play in the dirt, you've been thinking of starting a vegetable or herb garden—we see a great opportunity! Whether you have space for a few clay pots in a sunny window, a larger window box or a backyard vegetable bed, kids will be fascinated as they watch tiny seeds grow into real-life veggies and herbs they can eat.
Some kid-friendly gardening choices that you can grow from seeds include radishes, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, carrots and lettuce. Imagine your son or daughter's face when they pull their first carrot from the ground, wash it and take a bite! Herbs are a great choice, too: mint, basil, chives or parsley all do well in the Virginia climate.
Container gardening inside requires a sunny window and some imagination! This website has lots of easy ideas: sprout a sweet potato by submerging its lower half in a glass of water; use eggshells as containers to grow chives; plant pansies in a juice box, or put the bottom of a celery bunch in water and watch it sprout new leaves in just a few days.
Whatever activities you choose for your family, we hope you enjoy a fun, memorable Spring Break!
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