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10 At Home Vacation Ideas

With a little imagination and planning, you can vacation from home. Start with these ideas based on an article from our friends at Reading is Fundamental.

1. Read a book that takes you to another part of the country.
Experience another region of our country with the help of a good book. Look at a map of the United States with your child and talk about the parts of the country he or she might want to visit someday. Use our state-by-state booklist to help your child choose a book. Then search online or visit your local library to learn more about that region. Reading about National Parks, historic sites, and museums can make the region come alive for your family.

Reading is Fundamental State-By-State Booklist.
Parents' Choice Armchair Travels.

The Field Mouse and the Dinosaur Named Sue2. Visit a local Museum.
Whether you live in a city or a rural area, local museums are always a popular tourist destination. To get in the mood for a visit to a museum big or small, your child could read one of the following books: The Field Mouse and the Dinosaur Named Sue by Jan Wahl, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, The Explorabook: A Kid's Science Museum in a Book by John Cassidy, or Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman. Visit a favorite museum or a local museum you've always wanted to try. Check your hometown newspapers weekend listings for information about museums and exhibits near you.

Check our Family Adventures pages for museums in your area.

3. Visit a historical site.
Is there a historical destination in your area you haven't visited with your family? Check out the National Register of Historic Places at your local library to find a historic site near you. Then look at our state-by-state booklist or visit your local library to see if you can find a book about historic times. The Magic Tree House series, and the American Diary series are both popular collections, which tell engaging tales about the past. Learning about the past is another way to leave the everyday world behind while still in town.

Tar Beach4. Plan a day of fun or relaxation.
Nothing says vacation more than a relaxing day or two where you sit around and enjoy life. Pick something to do that's pure summer fun like spending the day at a local pool or swimming hole, an amusement park or a local sporting event. Pack a picnic lunch, make sure to bring summery refreshments like lemonade, and don't forget your blanket. Read Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, a book about a girl who manages to get away from it all even though summer escape is the tar roof of her very own building.

5. Enjoy the great outdoors.
What better time than summer to take a day trip to hike, swim, catch fireflies, look at birds or plants, and enjoy the great outdoors? Even if you're not going away, you can still enjoy all that nature has to offer near to you home. Is there a state park, city park, or arboretum nearby? Some books to get your family in the mood for an outdoor adventure are: Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects by Sally Kneidel; DK Nature Encyclopedia by Dorling Kindersely Publishing; and Animals on the Trail with Lewis and Clark and Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent or visit your library to find nature guides specific to your part of the country. For a different kind of wilderness story an older child could read My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Learn more about your big backyard in our Backyard Exploration and Gardening section.
Host a Backyard Olympics.

Odds Bodkin - Little Proto and the Volcano's Fire6. Summer evening storytelling.
In most parts of the United States, summer nights are long and warm -- perfect for trying out that great summer tradition storytelling. You don't need a campfire to plan a time when the whole family can be together outdoors in the evening. Decide how long each story should be. Should it be 10 minutes each? Five minutes each? Have each person in the family think of his or her own story idea. Give everyone time to think of their story and then take turns telling your stories. For inspiration read a book by one of the country's regional storytellers. Try The Day it Snowed Tortillas: Folktales told in Spanish and English by New Mexico storyteller Joe Hayes, The Jack Tales by North Carolina storyteller, Ray Hicks, or listen to a CD by Vermont storyteller Odds Bodkin.

Learn how You Can Become a Storyteller.
Turn your backyard into Broadway with All the Backyard's A Stage.

Find the Constellations7. Travel to the stars.
To some people, summer vacation means sitting outdoors in the evening and looking at the stars. If you live in a place where you can sleep outdoors in the backyard, then pitch a tent in your backyard, look up at the stars, and tell stories late into the night. Even if you live in the city, you could visit a local planetarium, see the full moon, or see a few stars on a clear moonless night. And of course, you can get away from it all and take a trip to the stars with your family with the help of a good book about the planets and the stars. Try Find the Constellations by H. A Rey; Destination Space by Seymour Simon (about the discoveries of the Hubble Telescope); and the DK Space Encyclopedia by Nigel Henbest.

Start Stargazing with these Parents' Choice award-winning products.

8. Read aloud tales from around the world.
Summer nights offer a great opportunity to read aloud together as a family. If you have younger children then you'll be doing most of the actual reading. If you have older children then everyone in the whole family can take turns. What better way to experience new places than to choose a selection of folktales from around the world? Read from your family's favorite folktale collection or try one of these suggestions: Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World by Ethel J. Phelps and Lloyd Bloom; Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela; and One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi.

Don't miss some of our favorite Picture Book Read Alouds.

Moon Window9. Make a time capsule.
Leave your day-to-day routines behind by reading about time travel and then making a time capsule. Suggest your child read or listen to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L Engel, Moon Window by Jane L. Curry, or another book about time travel. To make the time capsule, first, select the container for the capsule itself. Have your child pick the items to put in the capsule. Ideas include: a newspaper; drawings; a list of favorite music, movies, or books; and some photographs. Talk about whom the time capsule is for. (It could be for your child to open in ten years, for some unknown person in the distant future). Your child could write a letter to his or her future self or to someone else in the future to include in the capsule. Make a label for the outside of the capsule -- Not to be opened until 2014. When finished, put the time capsule someplace no one goes, like the attic or the top of an out of the way closet.

James and the Giant Peach10. See a play or a movie based on a book.
There are many plays and movies appropriate for children based on children's classics. Check your local listings for children's theater and movies in your area. Some choices currently on DVD or in theaters include: James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. First have your child select the book. Your child can read it himself or you can read it aloud over a week or so. When you are finished with the book, go to see the play or watch the movie. Talk about the differences between the book and the movie with your child.

Learn how a small investment in local theater can reap big rewards with The Play's the Thing.
Check our Family Adventures pages for theater productions in your area.
Turn your backyard into Broadway with All the Backyard's A Stage.

This activity is reprinted with permission from Reading is Fundamental ©2004


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