There seems to be study after study, advocating outdoor time for kids. Experts suggest a correlation to everything from better overall health, to lower anxiety to better eyesight. While we would prefer if our kids spontaneously wanted to play outside, getting outside and enjoying it takes practice. We’ve compiled this list of outdoor games for kids that parents can employ to help encourage independent outdoor play.
Do you have a Independence Day Go-To Plan? Or do you like to switch things up each year? Since I didn’t grow up here, I like to check out different festivals each year.
We’ve collected several ideas for celebrating Independence Day as a family. If you know of an event — free or paid — that you’d like to see added, please drop us a line via our contact form. Thanks!
Where do your kids fall in the summer reading spectrum? Whether they love to read or hate it or are somewhere in between, there is probably a program out there for them. If they are ambitious, they can participate in several. There is no rule that kids can’t use the same books for several programs.
A couple years ago, I did some research on the reality of the income-based achievement gap and how parents can Increase their Child’s Chances in School with a few Simple, Budget-Friendly Habits. Summer reading is another place where the achievement gap grows. However, the fix is offering your kids easy access to a lot of books and empowering them to select their own reading materials.This is where summer reading programs can come in handy.
The following are few programs we found plus our own:
Vacation Bible School seems to be a little like scouts or sleep-away camps in that some parents did it when they were kids and consider it a childhood rite of passage. While others, like me, did not even know these camps existed until I was an adult. I have very little experience with VBS, so this list is merely a collection of churches that have submitted their programs to us. I can’t personally endorse any.
Faith formation of our children is such a personal matter, that I recommend visiting the websites of these churches and possibly attending a service to decide for yourself if the program is a good fit for your family. Follow the links to explore and register for programs.
June Vacation Bible School Programs
6/5-6/9 • Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Deep Sea Discovery • 9:30-11:30 am • Ages 3½-Kindergarten • $15/child.
6/12-6/16 • Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Deep Sea Discovery • 9:15 am-12:15 pm • Ages 4½-completed grade 5 • $15/child.
6/12-6/15 • King of Grace Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Mighty Fortress • 9 am-11:30 am • Ages 3+ (3-year-olds require a parent to be present) • FREE.
6/19-6/22 • Living Hope Lutheran Church, Shakopee • Cave Quest • 9 am-noon • Ages 2+ (2 and 3 yr olds need a parent) • $10 donation request/child.
6/19-6/22 • Grace Church, Eden Prairie • Big Story • 9 am-12:15 pm • K-5th Grade • FREE.
July Vacation Bible School Programs
7/10-7/13 • Calvary Memorial, Wayzata • The Heavenly Story • 6 pm-8:30 pm • Games, crafts, snacks, small groups… the Gospel of John, and Jesus Christ! • FREE.
7/24-7/28 • Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Roseville• VBS Theatre Camp • 9 am-12 pm • Age 4 – 6th Grade • Musical performance Friday, July 28 @ 7pm • $35/child or $70/family before 6/25; $45/child or $90/family after 6/25.
August Vacation Bible School Programs
8/7-8/11 • Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Plymouth • Maker Fun Factory • 9 am-12 pm • Age 4 – 6th Grade • FREE!
For more ideas on how to keep your kids busy this summer check out our 2017 Guide to Twin Cities Summer Camps.
Looking for an astronomy fix? During the summer months, we don’t have the Friday night Public Viewings at the UofM’s Institute for Astrophysics, instead there is the Universe in the Park program on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer. These events are held in various parks — some close, some not so close. The program starts with a 20-30 minute presentation at 8:30 p.m. and then, weather permitting, an opportunity to view the sky through telescopes until 10 or 11 p.m. Participants can learn how to use a star map and go home with a free one. This program is free, but a vehicle permit may be required ($25 annual/$5 daily). Don’t forget to dress appropriately for Minnesota summer evenings (You know the drill — layers and insect repellent.) Since it IS a park, and you are paying for a days worth of parking, you might as well arrive early with a picnic and have some playtime.
Participating parks are listed below:
I recently stumbled on the book, Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School (affiliate link*). It looked interesting, so I checked it out for myself, but after reading it, I plan to share the stories with my middle schooler. With immigrants and refugees frequently in the news, these stories are a way to introduce the subject from the point of view of someone close to their own age who has experienced these issues first hand.
Each essay in this book is written by a student of Wellstone International High School and tells their personal immigration story. The stories are told in a very matter-of-fact style that makes the stories that much more compelling. There is so much we take for granted in our own lives. This book will introduce you to 20 young people, many of whom have overcome poverty and language barriers to find their place in Minnesota. Each essay is a couple of pages and an easy read. This is a really good book to pick up, put down and discuss as you have a few minutes to read and talk together.
Now we can top off our reading of the book with a visit to the exhibit. Over the summer the Green Card Voices Exhibit will travel between three Ramsey County Library branches – Roseville in June, Maplewood in July and Shoreview in August. The exhibit will include the stories and photos, but also a QR code to see the story told by the author on video.
Green Card Voices began in 2013 and is an initiative crated to record and share the stories of American immigrants – regardless of status.
*The book link is an affiliate link to FFTC’s Amazon Store. We receive a small portion of any sales.
Fanny’s Journey is based on the true story of Fanny Ben Ami, who was 11 years old when she and several other Jewish children had to flee to Switzerland to escape the Nazis. When the adults who are leading their flight do not make a rendezvous, she is forced to take responsibility for the safety of her group.
Continuing on our whirlwind review storm through the Childish Film series of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival we saw Fortune Favors the Brave on Sunday morning. This is a German film that explores the very different worlds of the average middle class child and children of immigrants.
Mr. Frog is one of the seven films in the Childish Films series of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. It is a Dutch film that places a fairy tail element within an otherwise everyday world. What happens when your teacher sometimes turns into a frog? Deborah Girdwood, who is the lead programmer for Childish Films, compares it to a Roald Dahl story. So if you like The BFG, Matilda, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you may find some common elements.