Visiting a museum is as close as you can get to the real thing. Sometimes, that museum IS the real thing. A couple of local examples are the Elisabet Ney Museum which used to be her home and studio, and the Texas State Capitol where a lot of history has been written. Other example around the area is the Alamo. Hearing about Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin will never be quite like staring at their statues at the Capitol’s entrance.
Kids are very receptive of stories. That’s one of the ways they learn about their society and its many rules. Introducing history as a series of true stories has much more value than all the facts you can throw at them. Remember history is there to teach us how to be better. Try to involve children whenever you are teaching them history. Being able to relate to situations and values helps them remember better.
One of the best ways they can relate to things is by visiting places that are filled with history. Whenever we visit the Texas State Cemetery they are much more receptive to information about various heroes and events. Visiting places such as the Austin City Hall and other local sources of history can help them develop identity! It also shows models of good and responsible citizenship, creating better and more engaged adults.
Our city is changing so fast that we can take advantage of it by showing it to kids. It’s hard to understand big and slow changes without being aware of small ones. By walking around the city and watching it change, kids can understand history and consequences a little better. What a better way to learn this blast to the past than attending one of our Texas Weeks! We will visit all of the above mentioned places and more!
Last year I wrote about how visiting the Texas School for the Blind and the Visually Impaired impacted our children. They started realizing how the way our city was laid out affected people who couldn't see. This change in their world will happen whenever they are introduced to diversity.
One of the many benefits of traveling by bus is that you meet different people. Children are submerged in the city culture all day long. Then, through guided field trips we make sure to build a bridge between "us" and "them". That's what this city is about!
Join us on our Diversity week where we'll visit places such as: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the George Washington Carver Museum, The African American Heritage Center, the Central Texas Food Bank, Urban Roots Farm, Mexican American Cultural Center, Mexic-arte Museum among others.
Learning about diversity can start with very small things. You could serve ethnic foods once in a while and talk about where they come from. There are also tons of books that teach about different cultures. Of course if it's a possibility, meet people from all backgrounds!
Most kids that attend ATX Kids Club have never taken a city bus. Most of them know buses as "those yellow school buses". Few have commuted or taken Cap Metro City buses. Every one of them soon realizes that it's the best way to ride!
We always take the bus to our city adventures! We want every kid to be able to know where they are and to learn how to move around the city. It's even better now because kids ride free! Our four parks are conveniently located close to a bus stop so that we can take one or two buses to most of our destinations. You don't have to be an expert to do it.
The easiest way if you own a smartphone is to download the CapMetro app. You can use the trip planner or check specific schedules. Every bus stop has a QR Code that let's you know if your bus is delayed. Most buses have route maps available for free. Kids enjoy trying to figure out where they are going next either looking at the screen or at the map.
When we are downtown and take the bus, there is hardly a rush hour. Kids feel really proud and special when they notice the Bus Only lanes. Who wouldn't feel like that as the bus passes all those cars stuck in the traffic jam. Especially when there's AC and they can read or draw while taking the bus.
As a commuter that lives in North Austin, I vastly prefer driving to a park and ride and taking a bus or the train downtown than having to deal with my car when I am there. I know there is still a long way to go to make this city fully connected, but using what we currently have is a first step towards pushing it in the right direction! So take the leap, try transit.
Take nature as a source of inspiration for those arty kids! A small hike can help them be more creative. There are tons of patterns in nature. Finding them is an activity most kids enjoy. They'll even forget they didn't want to walk in the first place!
Once they have soaked in nature it's time for creating art. Some options include: drawing something they liked. Using parts of nature to paint (such as feathers, leafs and stones) or to sculpt. They can also find nice color palettes created by nature to use on their coloring books. If the walk allows it, you can even stop for quick sketches along the way!
During summer camp we encourage kids to bring a notebook and pencils. We sketch after hikes, during bus rides and at the library sometimes. Even when it's not Art week, we mix it in the fun!