Stop the Summer Brain Drain
It is inevitable that kids are going to want to take a break and to relax once the school year endsand that should be embraced. However, there are many ways to encourage your children to explore, learn and keep those brains active that are both fun and educational. Given that living in the GTA we want to take advantage of the few hot months we have in a year, there is no better way to do that then getting you and your kids outside and learning about nature. Even if you are not able to get out of Toronto and head up to cottage country there are many ways to include learning about science, biology while getting outside. Here are my tops 5 suggestions for doing just that with your kids this summer.
1. Head over to the Evergreen Brick Works on Saturdays or Sundays to check out their amazing farmer’s market and children’s nature playground. Take a tour through the farmers market and point out all the different fruits and vegetables. For younger children this would be a great way to have them learn the differences between fruits and vegetables and you can make it a game for them. The children’s playground has a different theme every week, and there are games, songs and stories. This coming weekend the theme is birds (June 18-19th) and the following weekend (June 25-26th) the theme is plants and insects. Programs run from 10am-4pm
2. Take a trip over to High Park in Toronto’s Bloor West Village area. High Park is Toronto’s largest public park and has a variety of hiking trails, gardens, playgrounds, adventure park and even a small zoo, where the now famous capybaras (earth’s largest rodent) escaped from. You could pick a theme for the day, like local wildlife, and have your children point out all the animals they see, and figure out if they are a mammal, bird, reptile or fish. Or do this nature-colour scavenger hunt. You can then get active and have some fun running around the adventure park and many playgrounds.
3. If you want something cool to do one evening head up to the Kortright Centre for their Bat Hikes on July 7th and 14th at 7:30 or 9:30 pm depending on the age of your little ones. Bats are key to the survival of our ecosystems. They help to pollinate plants, eat all the annoying insects, like mosquitoes, and are just really cool because bats are the only flying mammal. These hikes would be a great way to expose and get your kids excited about the amazing world of bats that call Toronto home.
4. Head down to the Toronto Beaches. You don't have to leave the city to have access to a lake and some sand. This is a great way to introduce your children to the marine environment we have on our doorstep and do this fun craft to create a beach in a jar to take home. You can teach you children about the great lakes and how they formed during the last ice age.
5. Want to feel like you are out of the city but don’t have the time or money to head up to Algonquin Park? Head just north of the 401 to the Rouge Valley Urban Park. There are many different trails you can hike with your kids. Bring a magnifying glass, a notebook and pen and your children can create their very own nature notebook and record and draw all the cool animals and plants you come across in your hike. Take some flowers and plants home and you can dry them and save them as memories from your hike.
Toronto has so many amazing things to do in the summer. Don’t let your child waste their time playing video games or being glued to their phones. Leave the devices at home during these trips if you can and really immerse yourself and your family into the amazing nature that is all around us. Show your kids that their is this whole world waiting to be explored and learned about. Keep their brains moving by exposing them to all these new experiences.
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