12 Walk Ideas for Toddlers

I have one toddler climbing on the couch and the other is dragging a roll of toilet paper around the house. I am running out of patience. We need to get out of the house, but where?

Have you been there?

The children’s museum is fun, but you went there on Monday.

The library is great, but you are going there tomorrow for storytime.

If you go to the park you will probably spend the whole time trying to talk them out of sitting on a swing the whole time.

Where can you go? What can you do? The answer is more simple than you might think.

When my twins were toddlers they were the extraordinarily busy kind. They loved to paint but there are only so many times in one day that I am willing to bath my paint covered child. The only way that would sit still was if I read to them. I loved to share books, but eventually my voice would start to go hoarse and we needed another option.

We lived in a small town with very few options for little kids. What did we do?

We went for walks. Lots of walks. Neighborhood walks. Walks around downtown. Walks in the State Park near our house. Over and over again. Every time they would find something new. Something interesting. Something to explore. They learned so much just by going for a walk.

Some of our walks were more themed or related to what we were learning and these were often our most fun. Below are 12 of our most favorite theme walks, one for every month.

12 Walk Ideas for Toddlers

1. Flashlight Walk : Fall. or Winter.

2. Listening Walk : Anytime of year.

3. Bird Watching Walk : Spring. Summer. or Fall.

4. Counting WalkSpring. Summer. Fall.

5. Car Colors Walk : any time of year

6. Fire Hydrant Walk : Spring. Summer. Fall

7. Flower Color Walk : Spring or Summer

8. Rainy Day Walk : Spring or Summer

9. Puddle Walk : Spring. Summer. or Fall.

10. Looking for Signs of Fall : Fall

11. Thankful Walk : Fall – or any time

12. Winter Lights Walk : Winter.

Little Walks Big Adventures. 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers

For more walk ideas and other adventures for toddlers, check out my book Little Walks Big Adventures!

Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego with Kids

San Diego with Kids

Cabrillo National Monument was our first family adventure in San Diego. It was a perfect spot to start getting to know our new home.

Cabrillo offers incredible views of San Diego, the mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. It also shares some local history.

It was also an opportunity for us to get our National Park passports stamped. More on this geekiness below.

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Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

Field Trip to Cabrillo National Monument

First stop: Visitor’s Center

I always stop at the Visitor’s Center first for three reasons:

  1. Get a map. The rangers or volunteers are usually super friendly and helpful. They can show you which paths are best for kids or let you know what is best to see that time of year or that time of day.
  2. Get your passport stamped! My kids both have a mini-passport book and I have a big one. We get pretty giddy about stamping them. It’s hard to explain why but we’ve definitely gotten the bug. I linked to both above on Amazon, but you can get them at most National Park Visitor Centers as well. It is a great way to get your kids excited about visiting the parks. 
  3. Get a Junior Ranger newspaper. My kids love the Junior Ranger Program. It is best for kids ages 5 and up. For Cabrillo National Monument kids their age had to complete 4 or more sections. I love that this program keeps them engaged and helps us direct them towards things they will find interesting. Bonus: I always, always learn something myself. When they are done head back to the Visitor Center to get a badge from the Ranger.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

what to see

There are a lot of options at the Cabrillo National Monument even though for a National Park it is on the smaller side.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

First – The View

Our kids are generally not overly impressed with views but since this is our new town they were a little more excited about scoping it out from up high. We could also spot their Daddy’s new work from up here which was exciting too.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

These were taken from right behind the Visitor’s Center.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

Cabrillo Monument

This statue is dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who was the first European explorer to set foot on the United States’ west coast in 1542.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

The Junior Ranger program helped us learn more about the focus of this park.

The Old Lighthouse

This was a highlight for our kids. They love lighthouses.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

It is a tiny lighthouse and we weren’t able to go up to the top, but my kids still loved going inside and seeing the recreated quarters for the lighthouse keeper.

We also learned about chamber pots which they thought was hilarious.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

read also: 52 things to do with kids in san diego

Kelp Forest and Whale Overlook

This is a short kid friendly trail that goes along the western edge of the point. The views are incredible.

We spotted whales spouting and could see the kelp forest off the coast of San Diego.

I highly recommend bringing binoculars for your kids if you are visiting during the whale migration periods. You can learn more about when and what to watch for on the National Park Website.

Cabrillo National Monument San Diego with Kids

 

Good things to know about cabrillo
  • There are bathrooms at the Visitor Center and by the Kelp Trail past the lighthouse.
  • Bring your own snacks and water to drink, especially on a hot day.
  • Dress for the weather. You are up high and exposed so wear sunscreen and bring water on a hot day. Be prepared for wind and a bit of a chill off the water on cooler days.
next time

We heard a lot about the tide pools before we visited, but the tide was high when we were there so it wasn’t in the cards. We would love to check them out the next time we visit. If this is the must do for your visit make sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego with Kids

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4 Steps to Prepare Kids to Move: NYC to CA

Moving with Kids

Preparing kids for a move…honestly I feel a little silly writing this because even though this is our 5th move with kids in 6 years I still don’t feel like I have answers.

Moving is hard.

I’m a grown up and moving is still really hard for me.

That being said, since this is the 5th time we’ve moved with kids I do feel like I have learned some things that make me feel more prepared this time around. Hopefully they will be helpful for your family too.

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The Move

Are you thinking “Wait, you’re moving…again?”

Then yes! – we are moving! My husband got offered an awesome job in San Diego so we are headed west to sunny California in January.

It will be really hard to say goodbye to New York City – especially so much sooner than we had planned. Living here has been a completely unique experience and I’m so grateful we’ve had the past year and a half to explore one of the greatest cities in the world.

More than anything, it will be hard to say goodbye to the fantastic people we have met. You hear so many awful things about rude New Yorkers and while yes the pushing on the subways during rush hour and the alarming amount of honking for little reason is hard to explain, New Yorkers in general are wonderful, welcoming people. We have made great friends here and that makes moving away so sad.

However, moving we are so we need to prepare.

4 Steps to Prepare Kids for Moving

Does anyone have the perfect answer to this? I still struggle with how to prepare myself and generally exist in a state of denial for much of the prep time, but I do try hard to talk to the kids about what is coming up and how they are feeling about it.

Here are the things we have found to be helpful in easing the move for our kids.

1. Children’s Books about Moving & Conversation

I have found reading books about moving really helps start conversations about their fears and other emotions involving our move. This is the list of books I use.

Asking open ended questions also helps to open a dialogue about the move and what they are concerned about. Some questions we have found helpful are;

  • What are you wondering about (new city)?
  • How are you feeling about our move today?
  • What are you going to miss the most about this home?
  • You seem sad today. Can you tell me about it?
  • How do you think we could stay in touch with {insert important friend’s name}?

2. Here and There: Mapping Our Move

mapping our move with kids

A dear family friend heard about our move and sent us a huge map and guidebook about coastal California from AAA. I paired this with our 50 States book.

  • First we found New York City on the map and San Diego California.
  • We found San Diego in The 50 States Book.
  • As we figured out the route we were going to take to CA we started mapping that and also read about the places we would be stopping.
  • When their Dad went out to San Diego to hunt for a home we also mapped his trip. We found their new school and home on the map and added little dots. We talked about other things like where the closest library is, how we might drive to the zoo, and best of all the shortest route to the beach.

Family Road Trip Activity Tips

3. What to Pack in the Car

If you are moving across town or in a U-Haul then your belongings are all coming with you – but in our case our things are getting put in a huge semi and then disappearing for somewhere between a few weeks to a few months.

With this type of move in mind, here are the things I recommend packing in the car although I think some of it would be comforting to a kid no matter how short or long your move.

  1. Clothes. I pack like we are going on a week long trip. This gets a little more complicated when you’re moving from Winter in New York to warmer weather in San Diego, but I try to cover a week’s worth of clothes and pajamas and such and then plan to do laundry. (Bringing some detergent is also helpful – a few of these pods is easy to pack!) Don’t forget swim suits – there is at least one perk of living in a hotel for a while!
  2. Activities for the car. (In this case a LOT of activities for the car)
  3. A box of children’s books to rotate through over the next couple of months.
  4. A box for each child with their absolute favorite stuffed animals and toys. I let them help fill this up. This is whatever is most important to them so they are comforted by the fact that it is in the car with and not disappearing onto a truck. The box stays in the car until we get to the hotel or new home and tides them over until the rest of their toys arrive.
  5. A backpack of a few things they want to use in the car and then I sneak in some other surprises the night before.
  6. Food. Snacks for the car and some basics to start our pantry stocking when we arrive. I also pack a case of water.
  7. Pillows, blankets, and sound machines. We find it comforting to have our own pillows and blankets with us when we’re living out of a hotel for a while.
  8. Scooters, soccer ball – some kind of active outdoor gear to pull out of the car and get in a little gross motor on long car days.
  9. License Plate Game – if there was ever a time we might get all 50 I think this is our shot!

4. Saying Goodbye to People & Places

This is the hardest part. I hate goodbyes and I’m generally pretty terrible at them. I am however good at staying in touch with people after we move, so I feel like “see ya later” is a pretty truthful statement and I prefer it.

Make a list with your kids. What do they want to do one more time before you leave?

What’s on our list this time?

Places and People to Say Goodbye to in New York

  • Playdates with friends.
  • Central Park. Narrowing down which playground to play at was hard!
  • Play at the playground down the block.
  • Ride their bikes on the Coney Island Boardwalk again.
  • Fingers crossed – getting to see snow one more time.
  • See their uncle one more time.

4 Steps to Prepare Kids for a Move

And here we go…

You can read about our coast to coast road trip as we moved from New York City to California.

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with us as we explore our new home.

A Visit to the Museum of Math in New York City with Kids

There’s a museum of math?! I was rather incredulous when I first heard of this lesser known New York museum, but then in a city that truly has something for everyone I am not sure how I could be surprised.

The Museum of Math is a fascinating museum for those intrigued by Math – and even for those less Math inclined (raising my hand). I recommend it for anyone ages 5 and up.

Located across the street from Madison Square Park and a few blocks from my beloved Flat Iron Building it is centrally located and easily accessible from the N Q R or W 23 Street Subway Station.

When you enter, you are greeted by this track for square bicycles. My kids found this endlessly entertaining. Truthfully so did I.

read also: Everything guide to nyc with kids

 

On the main floor there were also several areas with manipulates to explore how shapes work. I loved the open ended nature of these opportunities.

One of my favorite parts about the museum was the inventive uses of technology. This area above encouraged you to make patterns on the wall with a projector.

There was also an awesome gross motor number challenge that involved full body movement and technology. All of us ages 5-63 gave that one a try.

Our favorite nook was probably the pattern painting shown below.

These were all found on the first floor. You can head downstairs for more fun, but the ideas down there are more complicated and aimed at older children and adults. Our kids still had a lot of fun down there but needed more assistance and understood the concepts a little less.

This is one of the few museums that we have visited that had something for kids and teens and adults. We all found something that fascinated us.

A truly unique museum.

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden with Kids

New York City is known for it’s towering skyscrapers and historical sites. When people visit they make plans to be entertained on Broadway, peer out from the top of something tall, or breath in the bustle of Times Square.

The incredible parks throughout the city are rarely included on the tourists must dos, except for Central Park. (For good reason, it is awesome).

When you go to New York City with kids (and possibly even without) there will be moments when you want to escape the bustle. If you live here that is even more true.

Fortunately there are many spots where you forget, just for a moment, that you are in a huge city.

Spots where your kids can run free. Spots where it is quiet(ish). Spots where green outweighs horns and hurrying.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is one of our favorite such spots.

4 Things to Do with Kids at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

1. Scope out their events

Their event calendar is often busy with fun things for families. One of our favorites is FREE tuesdays! Children under 12 are always FREE however so this is a relatively inexpensive adventure any day of the week.

2. Visit the Children’s Garden

We usually start our visit at the Children’s Garden. It is a delightful, thoughtfully laid out space for kids to explore. It does tend to get more crowded as the day progresses so starting here affords us some quieter time to move about as we want.

Often there are stations for kids set up in this area – check the calendar. On this particular morning there were instruments to try of all kinds.

There were various booths set up around the child gardens. Each had a theme and all were staffed with attentive, wonderful staff, but our favorite was the booth about Monarch Butterflies. Even I learned something and our kids loved every bit of it. From completely the butterfly life cycle to pretending to be butterflies themselves.

Read Also: Our Favorite Things to Do with Kids in New York City

3. Have Lunch

There is a nice spot near the conservatory for lunch. They have yummy (slightly expensive options) and spots to sit outside. Picnicking is not otherwise allowed in the gardens. Bathrooms are located in the building next door for a convenient toilet try break!

4. Wander the Gardens

After lunch we venture into the rest of the gardens which are HUGE. Walking around you wonder how this can all possibly be tucked into Brooklyn between the busy streets.

One of our favorites was the Rose Garden. There we saw beautiful roses (of course), bees and butterflies. Perfect for a Spring Adventure!

I usually treat walks in gardens the same as hiking and remember the 2 essentials to keep my kids engaged.

Before we know it most of the day has flown past. Our feet are tired but we are happy for a day of exploring and nature.

This is a truly wonderful spot for families. I highly recommend it if you are in Brooklyn with kids.

Colors Unit for Preschoolers

Colors are all around us and offer so many delicious ideas for exploration, adventure and learning.

Today’s unit is perfect for preschoolers and children a little younger and older with a few simplifications or additions.

Let’s dive in!

Color Unit Ideas for Preschool

Our units often start with a book and a field trip – here are two ideas for field trips to get the wheels spinning about possibilities.

2 Color Field Trip Ideas

A field trip is always a great way to bring a topic to life – to draw connections between what you’re learning at home or in the classroom.

These two field trip ideas are ways to draw attention to the colors all around us.

Car Colors Walk

1. Color car hunt

This is a fun idea to do any time of the year with kids who are excited about or learning about transportation.

Before the Field Trip

Prepare color swatches (paint chips work great!) or color cards for each kid to reference on the walk.

Read a book about colors or talk about different color names and then introduce the idea of hunting for colored cars. Show them the color swatches or color cards they will be using during the field trip.

During the Field Trip

Head outside with our color cards in hand and a plan to look for cars. My toddlers each picked a color to look for first.

From there we alternated between looking for that color and labeling the color of cars we saw. For the most part, we searched for the color Red.

We also talked about shades. Our color cards have different shades for many of the colors which gave us the opportunity to discuss shades of colors.

after the field trip
  • Tie your colors into play back at home in the classroom. Add your color swatches to your block area in a basket next to a collection of toy cars. Don’t force the idea of matching, but have them available and support your kids if they are interested in using them with the toy cars.

Flower Color Hunt

2. Flower colors walk

Spring is the perfect time for a Flower themed color hunt around the neighborhood to further deepen the early interest in flowers.

Before the Field Trip

Introduce the idea before you go.

We read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and then went back through the book reviewing the different colors we saw. As we identified each color, I drew a corresponding circle of the color on a piece of paper for each of them.

During the Field Trip

*Papers in hand, we headed out into the neighborhood to see what we could spot.

*Consider taking a photo of each flower you find or inviting your child to take a photo.

after the field trip
  • Print photos of the flowers and arrange an invitation to draw at the table.
  • Talk about planting your own plants or flowers.
  • Sort your flowers by color

Color Unit Field Trips and Activity Ideas for Toddlers and Preschool

Color Activity Ideas

Learning colors is a learning goal for preschoolers. Field trips like the ones described below and activities like the ones below are some fun ways to explore color.

One of our favorites was color week. It was a week of color and fun that got my preschoolers excited about color and led to other explorations afterwards.

Color Week Resources

Rainbow Colors Week Ideas for Preschool

More Color Themed Activities

Literacy Activities

  • Rainbow Journal Start a Rainbow journal and use for the entire Color Week or throughout the year.To make ours I simply stapled together several pieces of paper that were folded in half. On the front, each of my kids wrote “Rainbow Book” following the example I wrote out for them on a piece of paper.Next, they turned to the first page and wrote RED. Then they used a collection of Red art materials to draw on the other page whatever they wanted.The following day we provided Orange materials and so on.
    (Literacy)
  • Read Books about Colors Here are my favorite picture books for each color of the rainbow.

Art Activities

  • Collaborative Rainbow This art project will last you the entire Preschool Color Week or over the course of a few days. Start by drawing a rainbow outline on a large piece of paper. Hang this on a wall in your art area or classroom.Each day present art materials for that day’s color of the day. Monday, we added Red Gummed Art Tape to the first stripe.
    (Creativity + Social Skills)

STEM Activities

  • Play PRESS HERE: The Game. This is such a fun game for exploring the way colors and patterns work together. It is great for building color awareness and reasoning skills, as well as imagination.

More ideas!

Learning Thru Adventure: 5 Minutes with a Tow Truck

5 Minutes with a Tow Truck

“Mom can we get out and watch the tow truck closer?”

I hesitate. We only have 5 minutes to get down the block to my daughter’s dance class. That sounds like a long time but my kids are notorious for making walking a few blocks take hours and I don’t like being late.

I look down at their pleading faces and shrug. “For a minute” I say.

They hop out of the car and race to the edge of the sidewalk with a “wahoo!”

The man operating the tow truck looks over with a smile. I assume he’s just thinking they’re cute with their ceaseless exuberance but then he surprises me.

“Do you want to come help?”

They glance up at me for a nod and then hop, skip and gleefully jump over to him.

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He lets them take turns with the different levers that move the ramp up, down, in and out. They move a car up and back onto the tow truck.

The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes but they skip all the way to dance waving to the tow truck and shouting “that was the coolest thing ever!”

5 minutes to make their day.

5 minutes to make a couple of kids feel seen and important.

5 minutes to teach them something I doubt they will ever forget.

5 minutes of kindness from a complete stranger to restore my faith in people in a big, busy, smelly city.

Those 5 minutes and that kind man have stayed with me.

When my kids ask to help me slice vegetables or load the washing machine my instinct too often is to sigh. I know them helping will make my task take longer.

Then I think about those 5 minutes. 

I let them help and then leave with a smile on their face and a little extra knowledge tucked under their belts.

Those 5 minutes add up.

To the kind smiling tow truck man with the Captain America hat, thank you.

Thank you for seeing my kids that afternoon in Brooklyn.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with them.

Thank you for reminding me the value of those little moments.

Thank you for those 5 minutes.

5 Minutes with a Tow Truck Learning Through Adventure

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The Two Essentials for Hiking with Kids

My frustration is rapidly turning into anger. My twins four year olds are running ahead on the trail yelling – scaring the birds away and probably every other animal in the forest.

None of the bird watching I had envisioned is occuring here. I’m struggling to keep up and wondering why I thought a nature hike was a good idea. Have you been there?

The first time I took my kids on a bird hike I forgot the two most important things about hiking with kids.

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Fast forward a year and we’re once again hiking. This time we’re in Brooklyn at the Marine Salt Marsh.

It’s this quiet little nook in the middle of southern Brooklyn. An escape from the bustling city that sneaks up on you. As you wander the mile loop near the marsh you forget, just for a moment, that that you are still in New York. You get lost in the soft chirping and cool breeze and just for a moment you are in the nature.

This time, at the Salt Marsh, my kids walked. They stopped frequently. They spotted birds, butterflies, bumblebees, and three kinds of flowers.

This time they looked carefully.

This time they saw the birds.

This time they enjoyed the nature around us.

So what was different? This time I remembered two things.

The 2 Things that Transform a Hike with Kids

1. Get them excited about a Focus

This is preschool teacher rule number one and I forgot. You have to get them excited about it before you go or they won’t be invested.

Often I get my kids excited about an adventure with good books. We looked through a couple the morning of our Salt Marsh bird hike and talked about what we might see on our adventure.

Books About Bird Watching

National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America by Jonathan Alderfer Order Online

Birds, Nests and Eggs by Mel Boring Order Online

By the time we were done with our breakfast, they were jumping out of their seats to get bird watching.

2. Give Them Things to Do

The first time we went, I didn’t bring anything except for my camera. I was expecting them to do what? Stand still and stare and the tree tops? Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Now when we go for a bird hike, we bring our bird watching tools.

There are three things we love for bird watching.

1. Child Sized Binoculars Order online

2. Journal & Colored Pencils

The journals you see were gifts that we love made by Blick. They are similar to what I linked. The main things you are looking for are unlined paper, spiral binding so it will lie flat, and a smaller size. In my opinion that makes it more portable and easier to fit on a child’s lap while they draw in the field. Order Online

3. Children’s Bird Book

Those same bird guides mentioned above that got us excited to find the birds, also help us identify them on our hike.

 

If I remember to do those two things? We slow down. We see things. Mama doesn’t lose her cool. And best of all, learning happens.

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Fire Safety Field Trip and Unit for Kindergarten and First Grade

Fire Station Field Trip and Unit

Her eyes are gleaming as she steps up and grabs the fire hose. The fire fighter shows her how to turn it on and a gush of water swooshes out in front of her. She beams.

A field trip to the Fire Station never stops being cool. These are moments that no book, no picture, and not even a video can capture.

The uniforms. The hoses and levers. The bright shiny red trucks.

We have been lucky enough to go on several Fire Station trips in the different state we have lived and every time it is an awesome experience for my kids.

On one particular Fire Station visit my kids initially seemed a little less interested.

Our son climbed in the front and then out the other side. Our daughter started in the back and then hopped out. They both started wandering around the truck. I suggested we get our inevitable coloring books to speed along this process.

Then my son asked me, “What is this for?” He was pointing to one of the many switches on the side. I had no clue and I could see that he was curious, so I told him to ask a firefighter. He was a little unsure about this, but his sister bravely walked up to one of these large men and said “What does that do?”

The firefighter bent down and answered her question.

This led to another question and another. Soon they were following the firefighter around the truck as he demonstrated everything to them. Where the hoses were and how they got hooked up. What was inside the different compartments and what they used each item for.

Their questions were endless and his patience, seemingly, was as well.


They were utterly fascinated and this kind man took the time to share his expertise with these two young children.

We forgot about the heat. We forgot about needing water and wanting AC.

We learned a lot about firetrucks and then when they were done, they grabbed those coloring books and headed for the car full of ideas.

Safety Unit for Kindergarten + First Grade

 

related curriculum or projects
  • Members of our community have different roles.
  • There are community jobs to help keep everyone safe.
Before the Field Trip
  • Talk to the Fire Station to confirm date and what to expect.
  • Read some children’s books about Fire Fighters and Fire Stations. Here are our favorites: 10 Books about Firetrucks
  • Talk to your kindergarteners or first graders about what they know about fire fighters and what questions do they have. Write these down on a chart, but also copy the list of questions onto paper to carry with you to the field trip.
During the Field Trip

You can absolutely just walk up to a station with a kid or two. If the fire fighters aren’t busy they are usually happy to show you their trucks.

However, if you plan ahead and call the fire station to set up a time the experience is definitely more in depth and fun. Fire Fighters are more than happy to have kids come for an educational field trip.

6 Tips for a Successful Fire Station Field Trip

1. Read a Book Beforehand

Read a book or two about fire fighters and fire trucks before you go. Looking at pictures of fire fighters in their gear might be helpful. Some of the children in our group were frightened by all of the gear, especially the face mask. Preparing your child beforehand by introducing them to what a firefighter wears and why might be helpful.

2. Bring a Camera

Bring a camera and take pictures. We spent a lot of time referring to the pictures of our trip in the weeks to follow.

3. Have a Bathroom Plan

If you have a child more recent to toileting, make sure to go to the bathroom beforehand. The bathroom at the firehouse is not usually set up for outside use, plus your kid is not likely going to be thrilled with a toilet break during the field trip excitment.

4. Prepare Your Child

Talk to your child beforehand about some of the things you might see. The fire trucks, the fire fighters. Older kids could also brainstorm questions that they want to ask the firefighters on your trip.

5. Talk about Expectation

I think this is a good idea anytime you go anywhere. Having clear behavior expectations and communicating them to your child improves the odds that you’ll get good behavior. My expectations at the fire station where that they would follow the fire fighters’ directions, use walking feet, and stay near me.

6. Go Again!

Like I said above, we’ve done this several times. We’ve gone with moms groups in each of the cities we have lived, taken advantage of fire trucks at festivals, and visited fire stations without a group. Kids need to be exposed to things more than once. Even though I typically only share each activity or place once, don’t be fooled – we do most things many, many times.

 

after the field trip

Now is the time to extend and deepen learning. First, print out your pictures from the field trip and post them where the children can see them and reflect on what they learned.

During a group time, add to your chart with the answers to your questions and write other things you learned at the station.

Have new questions arisen? How could you go about answering those.

Use this conversation to help direct where you go next. What interested them the most? What are they wondering about?

Below are some Fire Fighter Unit ideas we have used.

 

Literacy Activities

  • Draw and/or write a family or classroom emergency plan.

Compare and Contrast Fiction and Non Fiction

Art Activities

  • Paint Fire and then pretend to put it out with play hoses.

STEM Activities

STEM Emergency Vehicles Unit Invitation

  • Make a Rescue Vehicle STEM Invitation
  • Drawing signs shape activity – based on the goal to build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes. For example, a triangle is a closed shape with 3 sides and 3 corners)
  • Five Little Firefighters (Craft + Song) from JDaniel4’s Mom

Social Studies Activities

  • Things that work on social studies goals of understanding that people in the community have jobs, use tools to provide services, help in emergencies, and are diverse and work together.
  • STOP, DROP AND ROLL (Song) from Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes
  • Set up a dramatic play center using fire fighter costumes (we used these) and the DIY Pretend Play Fire Hoses described below.
  • Add pretend fire trucks to your block area and perhaps some construction paper “fire”

DIY Pretend Play Fire Hoses

Materials

  • Tape (I used craft tape and painters tape)
  • Scissors
  • 1/2 Inch Self Adhesive WeatherstripDirections:
    1. Gather materials
    2. Cut the insulation to the desired length. I made two of these, one for each of my kids. If you are making them for a larger group, I recommend at least 4.
    3. Cut lengths of painters tape and fold each strip in half to make the “water”
    4. Tuck the painters tape into the insulation and use tape to wrap it shut. I used colorful tape of two different colors to distinguish which hose belonged to which child. Masking tape would have worked just as well to hold it together.
    5. Coil and place in a basket on the shelf for play time.

Current Learning Objectives

Examples of what is learned through the activities in this unit based on NYC Common Core Standards for First Grade.

  • People in the community have different jobs. (Social Studies)
  • Community workers use tools and resources to provide services in a community. (Social Studies)
  • People in a community help their neighbors in emergencies. (Social Studies)
  • Community workers are diverse and work with one another. (Social Studies)
  • Build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes. (Math)
  • Compare and contrast fiction and non-fiction. (Literacy)
  • Understand parts of informational texts. (Literacy)
  • Understand features of a sentence and write various forms of texts. (Literacy)

Fire Station Field Trip and Unit Ideas for Kindergarten and First Grade

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Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island with Kids and Where to Find the Best NYC View

When you’re thinking about what to do in New York City – a completely overwhelming prospect, I know – this is one you don’t want to miss. I’m not sure why we waited so long, except for perhaps I was hesitant about bringing smaller kids.

To be fair, I do think this adventure is best for families with slightly older children – my reasons for that are below – but I am so glad we made the time for this before we move.

Liberty Park New Jersey

We had a half day. That’s all. Post-soccer I just had that urge.

You know the one where you just want to go somewhere new? Does anyone else get that feeling?

I wanted to go on an adventure.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island had been on my NYC bucket list for a while. I did them both as a kid, but I wanted to go again and I wanted my kids to experience them before we leave New York.

After some quick sidelines research while we cheered on our little mini-kickers, we determined that Yes! We could get same day tickets to Liberty Island.

Note: If you want to go up in the pedestal or crown you cannot do this spur of the moment. Book at least a couple months in advance.

After we removed cleats and quickly fed our twins, we drove to New Jersey.

Read also: Unofficial guide to central park’s playgrounds

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Liberty State Park

So I’m kind of given away the best part right here at the start, but Liberty State Park was such a wonderful surprise. I thought of it as a gateway to the Statue of Liberty and it is, but it is more.

The Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial is one of the most beautiful tributes I have seen to those September events.

Empty Sky 911 Memorial Liberty Park NJ

And then there is the view.

Hands down this is the best view of Manhattan. I love the view from the Brooklyn Bridge Park and from Governor’s Island and from the Staten Island Ferry (I recommend doing this one at sunset), but this one is the best.

Manhattan is close to this part of New Jersey. You have a clear view of Battery Park, the One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. In my opinion, this view is unparalleled by all of the other awesome views.

Liberty State Park Website

Good things to know about liberty state park

*There is a paid parking lot with ample spots.

*Allow about an extra half hour before you get in line for the ferry to wander around the park and enjoy the view. We brought binoculars for the kids and this kept them occupied while I took a million photos of the skyline.

*The state park is across the street from the Liberty Science Center which is also worth a visit. 

Ferry Ride with Kids

You can catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from two places – Battery Park in Manhattan and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. I have done both and they are comparable experiences.

It is one of the quickest ferry rides I have taken. I think you honestly spend more time waiting for it to load and unload than you do actually riding the ferry.

The ferry is one price to take you to both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Ferry Website

Good things to know about the Ferry to Liberty Island

*There are bathrooms on the bottom deck and food for sale on the main deck.

*You will need to go through airport style security to get on board.

*Get in line early to get through security and on the ferry in time to get a seat.

Ellis Island with Kids

I am a history geek so this is one of the coolest places in the world to me. I love how the history of immigration comes alive in my mind when I’m here. Great care and attention to detail was taken in creating the various exhibits and there is so much to discover and learn.

My affection for this place established, I should need to say that Ellis Island is not overly little kid friendly.

It is primarily a read things museum, rather than a do things museum – that’s at least how my kids describe them. It is also a little harder to navigate with a stroller than some places we have visited.

The scavenger hunt and the audio tours do help, but these are best for no younger than 5 and probably best for 8 and up. My 6 year olds enjoyed listening to the telephone style audio recordings throughout the museum, answering the questions on the Junior Ranger form and the exhibit on what the immigrants brought with them the most.

My six year olds enjoyed Ellis Island and learned a few things about our history, but they were definitely way more excited about the Statue of Liberty.

Ellis Island Website

Good things to know about Ellis island

*You can check out a scavenger hunt style sheet for Junior Rangers at the information desk. They will give you a Junior Ranger pin on badge when you return the page.

*You can also check out an audio tour for FREE.

*There are bathrooms throughout the museum and a cafe with above average food on the main level.

Statue of Liberty

It is hard to describe how impressive the Statue of Liberty is in person. I walked around the island like a total dork saying “She’s just so cool!” over and over again to my husband.

She is just so cool.

I know everyone has seen photos of the Statue of Liberty a million times, but I really think seeing it up close and in person is worth the effort.

Statue of Liberty Website

Good things to know about the statue of liberty

*It is a longer wait for tickets to go in the base or the crown, but you can get a pass the day of to visit the island and even that is worth the trip.

*There are bathrooms by the gift shop.

*The audio tour for kids is a must! My kids loved it and it got them SO excited about the island and Lady Liberty beyond anything I could have accomplished on my own.

Last Thoughts…

In total, this adventure takes around 4 hours. We had tickets on the one o’clock ferry and we got back around 4:30 to our car. I did feel a little rushed on Ellis Island but otherwise this amount of time was decent.

I would recommend doing this tour with ages 5 and up. It is not unfriendly to littler kids but history is a hard thing to grasp and most of the content would simply go over the heads of younger children. Even at 6 my kids were a little young to fully appreciate this and I would love to do it again with them when they are in later elementary school.

Overall, this is one of those must-do New York City experiences. It is full of the history and strength and beauty that makes this city and our country what they are today.

Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with Kids and Where to Find the Absolute Best Views of the NYC Skyline

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