By Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. – Published

With a long summer break looming, many parents wonder, “How to keep the kids active and engaged?” My suggestion? Sneak a little learning into that summer vacation through an educational field trip… or two!

We are fortunate to have many world-class destinations right here in the tri-state area. From the stunning horticultural displays at Longwood Gardens, to the meticulously decorated period rooms of Winterthur, there’s so much to see and do. So, to sneak in a little learning — you won’t have to travel far.

Here are a few destinations that your kids will truly enjoy – just don’t tell them it’s educational!

Delaware Natural History Museum, Wilmington, Delaware
The budding biologist can explore the wonders of the natural world with Delaware’s only dinosaurs at the Delaware Natural History Musuem! Outstanding displays also include an African watering hole, a giant squid, the hands-on Nature Nook, a walk-over Barrier Reef, and thousands of shells and mammals from around the globe.

From June 14 – September 1, the traveling exhibit Bugs: Outside the Box, will also be open. Visitors will learn more about the important role that bugs play in our world and get up close and personal with some creepy crawlies!

For hours, admission fees, and directions, visit http://www.delmnh.org/

Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, Delaware
Art lovers of all ages will thrill to the outstanding collection of American art at The Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware. The Biggs features a collection of nearly 1,800 fine and decorative art objects, all of which reflect the Delmarva Peninsula. From furniture, to paintings, to silver, glass, ceramics and textiles, The Biggs offers a glimpse of the best of American art from 1700 to the present.

From May 17 – July 20, 2014 the museum will present a series of educational programs that provide information and art-related experiences focusing on the importance of recycling; the Child HELP Foundation Gallery will be literally transformed into the R³ Factory!

For hours, admission fees, and directions, visit http://www.biggsmuseum.org/

Delaware History Museum, Wilmington, Delaware
For the history buff, summer is the perfect opportunity to take a trip to The Delaware History Museum. Located in a renovated art-deco Woolworth store, the museum features three galleries of changing interactive exhibits on Delaware history. Displays include items of from everyday life like costumes and children’s toys, regional decorative arts, and paintings.

Summer offers several special exhibits including Forging Faith, Building Freedom now through June 30, 2014 and Little Italy, Big Festival, also through June 30, 2014.

For hours, admission fees, and directions, visit http://www.dehistory.org/

Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Science geeks unite! The Franklin Institute offers 12 exciting permanent display galleries from The Train Factory, to The Giant Heart, to Space Command, there’s something for every child’s interest.

And this summer, The Franklin Institute is expanding with the addition of the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion which will offer three changing exhibit spaces: Circus! Science Under the Big Top, 101 Inventions that Changed the World, and Ocean Soul.

The Franklin Institute also offers a world-class Planetarium and IMAX Theatre.

For hours, admission fees, and directions, visit https://www.fi.edu

No matter where you choose to visit this summer, make the most of the trip by engaging in follow-up afterwards. Take and share pictures. Discuss the specific exhibits. Engage kids with additional resources – from books, to films, to games. You may just spark a lifelong passion!

Visiting a museum with kids? Tips for a fun filled day!Outline expectations before you arrive.
If visiting a no-touch museum or destination, let kids know in advance. The youngest visitors will be happiest with interactive destinations like the Please Touch Museum.

Have a “Lost Plan.”
If your child is a wanderer or if the location is simply crowded, a “Lost Plan” is a must. For all but the youngest children, a cell phone (even borrowed from a parent) can be a lifesaver. All children should have the parent’s cell phone number with them – maybe even written on their arm!

Don’t forget the snacks.
If a location allows snacks and drinks, make sure you are fully stocked. A hungry child can’t appreciate the day. If no snacks are permitted, plan to stop at some point to reenergize.

Know when to call it a day.
Although you might be able to appreciate another 248 exhibits, your child probably can’t. End your day on a high note for a truly fun-filled learning experience. Your child may even ask to come back!

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Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.

Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+.
Email Beverly at beverly@backtobasicslearning.com, call her at (302)594-0754 or visit on the web at www.backtobasicslearning.com or www.backtobasicsprivateschool.com.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. is located on 6 Stone Hill Road, Wilmington.

Beverly Stewart inducted to Hall of Fame of Delaware Women