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June 26, 2019  |  

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1

When This You See, Remember Me, an exhibit at Mystic Seaport Museum through Saturday, June 23, will allow kids a glimpse into the early days of photography, and connect it with the age of the selfie and Instagram. Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum

When This You See, Remember Me, an exhibit at Mystic Seaport Museum through Saturday, June 23, will allow kids a glimpse into the early days of photography, and connect it with the age of the selfie and Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum )

2

If you take in Movie Mondays at The Kate in Old Saybrook this summer, you might also want to stop by Sweet Luna’s, across the street, for some Dole Whip. Photo courtesy of Sweet Luna’s

If you take in Movie Mondays at The Kate in Old Saybrook this summer, you might also want to stop by Sweet Luna’s, across the street, for some Dole Whip. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Luna’s )

3

Back to the Future is one of the movies showing during The Kate’s Movie Mondays. Photo courtesy of Back to the Future/Amblin Entertainment

Back to the Future is one of the movies showing during The Kate’s Movie Mondays. (Photo courtesy of Back to the Future/Amblin Entertainment )

4

Gillette Castle in East Haddam is full of William Gilette’s ingenuity. Outside, there are trails and walking paths galore. Photo courtesy of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle in East Haddam is full of William Gilette’s ingenuity. Outside, there are trails and walking paths galore. (Photo courtesy of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park )

5

Gillette Castle, open seven days a week, is a 24-room mansion made of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework. The medieval castle is set on an estate that includes 184 acres. Photo courtesy of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle, open seven days a week, is a 24-room mansion made of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework. The medieval castle is set on an estate that includes 184 acres. (Photo courtesy of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park )

6

If you opt for an afternoon at Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, you could sweeten the trip for your kids with a stop at Milkcraft, about a three minute walk away, where vapor clouds from the ice cream being custom made with liquid nitrogen are all part of the show. It serves blue ice cream, too. Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source

If you opt for an afternoon at Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, you could sweeten the trip for your kids with a stop at Milkcraft, about a three minute walk away, where vapor clouds from the ice cream being custom made with liquid nitrogen are all part of the show. It serves blue ice cream, too. (Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source | Buy This Photo)

7

If you opt for an afternoon at Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, you could sweeten the trip for your kids with a stop at Milkcraft, about a three minute walk away, where vapor clouds from the ice cream being custom made with liquid nitrogen are all part of the show. It serves blue ice cream, too. Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source

If you opt for an afternoon at Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, you could sweeten the trip for your kids with a stop at Milkcraft, about a three minute walk away, where vapor clouds from the ice cream being custom made with liquid nitrogen are all part of the show. It serves blue ice cream, too. (Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source | Buy This Photo)

8

BioBlitz is an upcoming event at Mystic Aquarium on Saturday, June 8. It will feature crafts, hands-on activities, and experts with whom the kids can talk. Photo courtesy of Mystic Aquarium

BioBlitz is an upcoming event at Mystic Aquarium on Saturday, June 8. It will feature crafts, hands-on activities, and experts with whom the kids can talk. (Photo courtesy of Mystic Aquarium )

9

Yale University Art Gallery aims to be kid friendly, with specially designed kid tours that includes myths, fables, and stories connected with art objects. The gallery also posts on its website a guide with tips on how to make a family visit a success. Photo courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery aims to be kid friendly, with specially designed kid tours that includes myths, fables, and stories connected with art objects. The gallery also posts on its website a guide with tips on how to make a family visit a success. (Photo courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery )

10

Yale University Art Gallery aims to be kid friendly, with specially designed kid tours that includes myths, fables, and stories connected with art objects. The gallery also posts on its website a guide with tips on how to make a family visit a success. Photo courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery aims to be kid friendly, with specially designed kid tours that includes myths, fables, and stories connected with art objects. The gallery also posts on its website a guide with tips on how to make a family visit a success. (Photo courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery )

‘Can I Have a Snack?’ ‘Can I Play Fortnite?’ ‘I’m Bored!!!’

Published Jun 05, 2019 • Last Updated 09:29 am, June 04, 2019

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Within the next few weeks, schools up and down the shoreline are closing out the grade books on the 2018-’19 school year and kids are heading into summer break. While the kids are excited for the first few minutes, parents are getting ready to hear a constant refrain of, “Can I have a snack?” “Can I play Fortnite?” and “I’m bored.”

Before we get too deep into summer over here, we’re going to reestablish a few routines that have helped stave off the constant demands for food, screens, and entertainment.

Can I have a snack?

I don’t know what it is about summer, but if your house is anything like mine, before the breakfast dishes are in the dishwasher, the kids are already looking for a snack, which turns into about five mini-meals before it’s time for lunch...and then it starts again until dinner.

In order to save not only my sanity, but also on my grocery bill, we have a few snacking guidelines in the summer. At any time throughout the day, the kids can help themselves to fruit and vegetables to their belly’s content. But, as far as snacky snacks—Goldfish, crackers, yogurts, and the like—they can help themselves to one between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch and dinner.

This not only takes away the constant munching, but gives them the freedom to make choices and encourages them to go for the healthy options if they’re truly hungry, rather than just snacking out of boredom.

Can I play Fortnite?

Oh, Fortnite. The other ‘F’ word, as many parents have come to think of it. The kids are obnoxiously obsessed with it. I’ve fully capitalized on that. In order to get Fortnite (or other screen time), there is a list of things that must be done first. It’s amazing how fast they can go through chores with some motivation.

Our daily checklist goes beyond chores (pick up after the dog, vacuum) and picking up after themselves (dishes in the dishwasher, rooms clean); it also includes things like giving someone a compliment, asking if you could help with anything, reading for at least a half-hour, and doing something creative, active, or productive for at least 45 minutes.

Having the checklist puts the question of when the screens can go on back on the kids and helps calm the tornado of having kids at home as they’re being held responsible for their own messes and contributing to helping around the house. The other added bonus is that once they start reading or doing their creative or productive activity, they usually get caught up in it, distracting themselves from the need for screens.

I’m bored!

With bellies full, chores done, and a daily dose of Fortnite, there are still a lot of hours left in a summer day. Whether you’re looking to fill a few days around your child’s camp schedule or they’re spending the summer at home, it’s never long before the kids are saying those two words: “I’m bored.” Here are some ideas to tackle that.

1. List It Out

Luckily, my kids seem to love lists as much as I do. As we head into summer, we sit down as a family and make a list called “If I’m Bored I Can...” We brainstorm all of the things they can do at home: play a game, read a book, do an art project, play guitar, do a workout, ride bikes, walk the dogs, and so on. While it certainly doesn’t eliminate those two words, it does help to remind them that there’s always something to do.

For years now, we’ve also made a Summer Bucket List with things we’d love to do over the summer. It’s always fun to see what the kids each want to do and check them off as we go through summer. Past lists have included: water balloon fights, concerts, backyard Olympics, watching fireworks, camping, kayaking, beach time, stand up paddle (SUP) boarding, family bike ride, and more. The list tends to be pretty long and while there are some things on there that cost money, a lot more of the activities are more focused on getting out and enjoying things that are right around us.

Anyone who has spent a full day at home with kids knows that sometimes you just need to get out of the house.

Since we are living on the shoreline, there are, luckily for us, endless opportunities for exploring in the summer.

2. Field Trip!

There are plenty of great destinations within two hours of the shoreline. Some of our favorite day trips are Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport, Gillette Castle, the Connecticut Science Center, the Beardsley Zoo, Six Flags, Sturbridge Village, and New York City. Yale University Art Gallery has plenty to offer families as well.

Here are some specific events coming up that might be of interest to your family.

• Saturday, June 8 is Connecticut Open House Day, where a variety of attractions, museums, galleries, and organizations will offer free or discounted admission. It’s a great way to try out an attraction you’ve always wondered about. Find out more by visiting zip06.com and searching for “Save the Date: Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 8” or by visiting www.ctvisit.com.

• On Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, is hosting a BioBlitz that will include hands-on activities exploring local watershed areas, creating crafts, talking with animal experts, and participating in field-based experiments. It’s all designed to help children, and their families, understand more about Long Island Sound. Find out more at www.mysticaquarium.org or by calling 860-572-5955.

• Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven has recurring family days on the second Sunday of each month, including June 9 and July 14, at 1 p.m. The events feature folktales, myths, and stories that highlight objects in the collection. The gallery also has an online “Guide for Families: Get Started” that gives tips on how families can best explore museums. Tips include try not to see too much in one trip, and aim for about a 30- to 90-minute visit with breaks scheduled in; how to adopt a “museum pose” that will help kids resist the temptation to touch; and questions to ask while looking at works of art, including “What do you see?” and “What do you notice?” Find out more at artgallery.yale.edu and look for “Resources for Families.” As an added incentive, about a three to four minute walk away is Milkcraft, 280 Crown Street, New Haven, (www.milkcraftca.com) which features cookie butter blue ice cream, milk and cereal ice cream, s’mores campfire ice cream, among other flavors, along with Bubblecones, Creameebuns, and small but impressive rolling clouds of vapor created when the ice cream is custom made with liquid nitrogen.

• Running through Saturday, June 23, Mystic Seaport Museum, 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, has an exhibit called When This You See, Remember Me, which focuses on photography in the late 1800s, from the perspective of both the sitter and the photographer. Kids will get to see the kinds of people who lived on the shoreline at the time, including people from different backgrounds and various occupations, and from infants to old people. There also is a recreated set based on an old studio, where visitors can take their own 19th century-style portrait, practice composing a scene viewed upside down through a period camera, and learn about a darkroom. For kids who are into selfies and social media, there are also selfie sticks, and an Instagram feed associated with the exhibit. Find out more at www.mysticseaport.org.

• Gillette Castle State Park is open to the public, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Located at 67 River Road, East Haddam, it is open seven days a week through Labor Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is required to enter the castle, which looks like a medieval fortress from the outside and, on the inside, features the creative genius of William Gillette, with built-in couches, wood carvings, a movable table on tracks, and 47 doors, no two of them alike. Outside, there are trails and walking paths, many of them suitable for the whole family.

• The Connecticut Science Center, 250 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, has on view through Sunday, June 30, the Real Bodies exhibit, which uses real human specimens to explore the mysteries of the human body and insights into breathing, hunger, the heart, and other essential functions and organs. In addition to the science of it all, there are also reflections on the cultural and emotional significance of what the children will see. More information is available at ctsciencecenter.org.

These field trips can certainly get pricey, so they’re definitely not everyday occurrences. There are ways, though, to cut your costs. Local libraries offer museum passes that are good for free or reduced admission. Most museums also offer discount days or times, so it’s worth checking out the website ahead of time.

Because we have a family of six, it’s often more cost-efficient for us to get a membership to a museum. It tends to be a little more than it would be for admission that day, but we then have the option of returning and many of the memberships offer reciprocal benefits to other museums or attractions. This year as a Christmas present, we gave the kids season passes to Six Flags. Because we bought them early, the pass for the season cost less than a daily admission does, plus it includes perks like free parking.

3. Explore a New Town

We are lucky to live in an area that is rich with history and full of quaint New England towns, many of which are centered around a green or a Main Street. We live in an area where people come to vacation so sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town or one of the others up and down the shoreline.

Not sure where to start or what to do once you get there? Check out a neighboring town’s website and calendar of events. Or just pick a destination and enjoy the drive. It’s fun to window-shop. You can pack a picnic to enjoy on the green or at a park or enjoy a local restaurant.

There are several websites that have lots of suggestions: www.visitconnecticut.com, www.ctvisit.com, and www.onlyinyourstate.com.

Another fun idea is to buy or check out from your local library the book, Connecticut 169 Club: Your Passport & Guide to Exploring Connecticut, the new book from East Hampton resident and historian Marty Podskoch, which has been described as a “guidebook to adventures in every corner of the state.” There is a passport program for anyone who wants to try to hit all 169 towns, with details available at martinpodskoch.com.

4. Movie Time!

There are lots of great blockbusters coming to the big screen this summer—the summer of live action Disney!—but did you know there are $1 movies available each week, too? Both Cinemark in North Haven and Regal in Branford host $1 summer movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. Marquee Westbrook Cinemas is showing family movies for free at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesdays from July 2 to Aug. 1. Movies coming up this summer in North Haven include How to Train Your Dragon on June 26; Smallfoot on July 3; Kung Fu Panda on July 10; and the LEGO Movie on July 17, all on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. Find out more at www.marqueecinemas.com, www.cinemark.com, and www.regmovies.com.

There are also several options for outdoor movies, including Friday Flicks through the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation & Trees; the Southington Drive-In; and a Family-Friendly Film Festival on Mondays in August at 7 p.m. at the Madison Beach Hotel, 94 West Wharf Road, Madison.

The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook also is offering Movie Mondays, sponsored by the Yakaitis family, with Back to the Future on June 24; Jurassic Park on July 1; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on July 8; and E.T. on July 22, and more through the rest of the summer. Adults are $10, kids are $5. There is, of course, candy, soda, and popcorn at the theater. And, for a special treat, you could take the kids to Sweet Luna’s, 139 Main Street, Old Saybrook afterwards for some Dole Whip.

5. Hit the Library

The library goes far beyond books (though we definitely love it for that reason too!). Check out your local library’s summer reading program to encourage your child to keep reading. Most programs also offer fun incentives like prizes or raffles.

In addition to books, libraries offer a great selection of classes and programs—most of which are free—ranging from books clubs to crafts to “maker” classes like 3D printing, sewing, and more. Visit your local library or its website for a full calendar of events.

6. Beaches, Parks & Trails

What’s better in summer than just being outside. The shoreline offers so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. While many town beaches require a parking pass for a car to enter, there is often public on-street parking in the area so you can pack up your beach bags and check out different local beaches.

It’s also fun to visit playgrounds and parks in other towns, as well as hiking trails. Add some fun to your hike by creating a scavenger hunt. You can also www.wildlifeofct.com to identify any animals spotted and www.ct-botanical-society.org offers a plant and flower identification tool on its website.

Visit www.ct.gov/deep and check out the “Outdoor Recreation” tab for information on boating, camping, activities, and state parks and forests.

Jenn McCulloch is a freelance writer, editor, event planner, and a mother of four who lives in Branford. Living Editor Pem McNerney contributed to this article.

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