Kids Fun / World Tour

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PHOENIX - Summertime can be fun with the days being more relaxed and there are 'no worries' getting up for school and having lunches packed or those times when homework WAS eaten by the dog! But what are you going to do on those days when the kids are sick of being inside, sick of what's on tv and, honestly, sick of each other?

One thing you might try is challenge them to come up with a plan. I have my granddaughters (the Lovely Ladies) write a list of what they want to do when they come over. We pick one or two items each visit and cross them off as they're done. It's kind of amazing how many they come up with. This summer we are looking forward to painting rocks, going to a movie in the theater, shopping, and having tea parties.

To help coming up with a list, I found a site online called '11 Ways to Keep the Kids Learning this Summer.'

This is a good site if you are concerned about your child losing some of their knowledge over the summer or they need an extra boost to get them on-task once school starts again. It had some good suggestions on how to inspire your child to read more or review their math. One was your child doing a page of work to earn an extra 15 minutes tv watching. I've always said I was never too proud to bribe. Whatever it takes was my mantra!

These everyday things I mentioned I do with my granddaughters and the article are a good start but there are some other ideas that might make the summer a little more fun.

Last year I discovered that the local library had a reading program where free Diamondback tickets are given if your child reads a certain amount by a deadline. It started May 31 and ends July 31; plenty of time to reach their goal! It's good for real young kids as they count how many books they read and then the older ones are given credit for how many pages they read. There are little prizes along the way (bookmarks, toys, etc) for each mini-goal. My Lovely Ladies did this last year and were so excited about not only reaching their goals but they got to go to a Diamondbacks game with their dad. They took signs that said, 'I read X-amount of books to come to this game!' Just go online for more information or stop by your local library. It's easy to sign up and it's a great place to go on a hot afternoon when the kids are crazy and you're close to becoming that way yourself!

We plan on doing the library reading program again but we decided to do something new this year. A friend of mine suggested this and we can't wait to get started. It's called A Trip Around the World. How this works is each child picks a country they would like to 'visit.' We do research on that country finding out where it's located, what their culture is like, what kind of architecture they have, what they wear, and what they eat. We are going make a poster board with all the information on it including the country's flag, their country bird, plant, etc. The ladies are interested in the food, fashion and the architecture. If you have boys, they may be more interested in the history (wars, etc) and types of transportation they used. We will then go to a restaurant that serves that country's food. I found miniature passports at 'Michaels' in the scrapbooking section and when we visit the restaurant, we'll stamp the passbook as if we were actually going to that country. The first place we are 'visiting' is China (Shelly's choice) and we are already looking forward to the food!

There are so many museums in the Phoenix area and some of them offer free admission on certain days of the week or month. The Phoenix Museum has Wednesdays from 3-9 where they ask for a donation instead of an entry fee. There are all kinds of exhibits available and another way to get out of the heat. Their website is:

Another museum that is not only great for kids but has a local history is the Heard Museum. During July, they are having Summer Sundays where it's free admission. This runs from July 3 to July 31.

Here is a list of other museums you might be interested in trying out:

The Musical Instrument Museum

This is the largest collection of musical instruments from all over the world. There was a CBS Sunday Morning Show segment about it and was the first time my husband and I had heard about it. Opening last November, it has had a great success. We took our Lovely Ladies there and they had a terrific time. They dragged us all over the museum to see their favorite country's instruments. They have a 'Hands On' room where kids can try out numerous string and percussion instruments. They even had a huge gong that they were able to hit. But only once, darn it! My husband and I are planning on going back and taking it a little slower. It is a huge facility and there's a lot to see. And they have a fabulous cafe with an on-site chef so there's a nice place to have a snack or even a meal. Good for a Date Night. Website:

The Arizona Science Museum

This museum has always had interesting exhibits and has several 'Hands On' rooms for kids of all ages. We have taken the Lovely Ladies there several times and have not been disappointed. Website:

The Arizona Youth Museum

This museum is located next to the Mesa Arts Center and is a terrific place for kids. Not only do you get to see different art exhibits geared towards children, there are places where they can work on projects like beading or sculpting. Website:

The Pueblo Grande Museum

Located by the Phoenix Zoo, this is a great place to learn about the first citizens of Phoenix, The Hohokam. This is a museum most people miss seeing when on their way to the zoo or Desert Botanical Gardens but is a great place to visit. Website: