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Adventures in Summer Learning
Posted 05/22/2019 01:28AM

Learning isn't over once school is out!

Summer is a great time for all kinds of learning opportunities for kids. Your kids are sure to enjoy many carefree days playing outside, swimming at the pool, visiting local beaches and “just being a kid.” But to keep up with their academic progress, plan some FUN trips to your public library, a neighborhood park, MOSI and other great destinations in our area. Here are some other fun family-friendly adventures to enjoy around Tampa Bay.

Tampa Riverwalk
Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.4 mile walkable, bikable, Segway-able path loaded with fun, culture, and learning adventures.

Sunsets at Pier 60
Gather the family and head out for the nightly sunset celebration at Pier 60 Park on Clearwater Beach. This free, family-friendly event begins two hours before sunset and features artisans, crafters, and street performers. On Friday and Saturday evenings, a free family-friendly movie is played under the stars at the Sunset Cinema. June movies include: On the Basis of Sex (PG-13), Mulan (G), and Mary Poppins Returns (PG).

Call of the Wild
From zoo homes to natural habitats there are lots of options for amazing animal encounters in Tampa Bay, such as:

Hidden Gem Beaches
Looking for a quiet, less crowded alternative to Tampa Bay’s popular tourist beaches? Check out one of these world class beaches:

  • Fred Howard Park is a natural beach and nature preserve located on the north end of Tampa Bay's barrier islands. The Park is connected by a mile-long causeway to the charming town of Tarpon Springs home to the area's famous sponge docks.
  • At the secluded beach on Caladesi Island the sand seems whiter and the water more teal colored than anywhere else. Shell hunters will appreciate the pickings and nature lovers will find plenty of small critters to watch. It is a nature sanctuary so there are few amenities and is only reachable by boat. Boats run from the mainland on a daily schedule, check their website for details and fees.
  • Honeymoon Island (the jumping off point to Caladesi Island) has a 4-mile expanse of white sand and you don't have to take a boat to get there. The Island includes several nature trails and bird observation areas where you can find nesting Ospreys and a variety of water birds. Visitors can learn more at the Rotary Nature Center. The Island also offers plenty of amenities including concessions and a restaurant.
  • Fort De Soto Park consists of over 1,000 acres of preserved land that covers five interconnected islands. These islands are home to numerous forms of wildlife that live in the Park's beach grasses, mangroves, wetlands, and palm hammocks. The beaches are wonderful and there is a calm lagoon protected by sand bars that provides a safe place for little ones to play. There is also a 7-mile paved trail for biking and walking. Included in the park's extensive list of amenities are two piers where visitors can fish without licenses, a dog park and beach area, and kayak and bike rentals.

A Day at the Park

  • Featuring almost three acres of nature play, Hammock Hollow Children's Garden at Bok Tower Gardens teaches conservation and the vital connection between animals, plants, and people. There is beautiful art, cooling water features, vibrant plantings, a boardwalk, a stage for little performers, and music area. Kids have things to climb on, under and through, as well as places to build, dig and create. 
  • Stay close to home at one of Hillsborough County’s newest parks! Carrollwood Village Park is a destination community park with amenities for all to enjoy. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the park along a scenic trail or get your exercise in at workout stations along the way. Look for wildlife as you walk or ride your bike around the lake! Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the shade at one of the pavilions. The nature play playground area provides a fun, unique play experience that will engage and challenge the park’s young visitors. There are even two dog parks — one for big dogs and another for small dogs. Later this summer, an interactive splash pad will be a great place to cool off! (Splash pad is still under construction.)

For those times when your child is going to be online, here are some fun websites to spark their creativity and keep their brains in gear!

ABCya! is a fun site for lots of great games and activities. There is a nice word cloud generator very similar to Wordle that creates nice-looking word clouds. The one-up ABCya! has over Wordle is that you may directly save your word cloud as a .jpg without any registration.

Loyal Books
Loyal Books (formerly Books Should be Free and Audio Owl) makes the world's public domain audio books available for browsing in a visual and easily searchable way. You can search for a specific title, or use the genre list to visually scan through hundreds of titles. Books may be previewed directly on the site, or you may download them directly into iTunes, or as zipped mp3 files. The downloads are broken into chapters. 

Story Jumper
Story Jumper is a wonderful site that allows children to create their very own books. You can create cover pages, add text, upload drawings or photos to illustrate your story, and you can use the Story Jumper clipart gallery, too. One of the best things about Story Jumper is that it is easy for teachers to create and assign student accounts. 

Science Bob
Science Bob is a fun, interactive site that has several different areas for kids to choose from. There are videos, experiments, science fair ideas and a research help link with many fantastic links to other sites. Don't forget to click on the "Whatever you do, DON'T CLICK HERE" button (or not). 

Interactive Simulations
From the University of Colorado at Boulder come some fantastic Java-based interactive simulations. From glaciers to natural selection to circuit construction, these simulations really show students how things work. 

Math Live
Math Live, a fantastic site for upper elementary students, is full of cartoon math tutorials on subjects like fractions, multiplication, area and perimeter, tessellations, probability, and a variety of other topics. The glossary section is an amazing collection of math concepts animated for more solid understanding. 

e-Learning For Kids
e-Learning For Kids is a great site with some wonderful interactive learning games that are engaging and fun. Students click on their grade and can then choose from a list of games divided into subjects.

SweetSearch is a safe searching site for students. Most search engines search billions of websites and return tens of millions of results; some are from reliable Web sites, some are not. SweetSearch searches only 35,000 websites that have been evaluated and approved by a staff of Internet research experts at Dulcinea Media, and its librarian and teacher consultants.

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