With Spring Break quickly approaching, parents may be trying to plan around their busy schedules in an effort to accommodate their kids who are out of school for the week.
For the second year in a row, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum provides an opportunity for children to not only stay active, but to also learn.
During the week of March 22, the museum will host Juneau Explorers Week. The program, which runs from 12:30-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, offers children ages 8-11 the chance to learn about Juneau's history, art, culture and environment during Spring Break.
"Our goal is to get the kids outdoors for a bit, as well as combine it with some arts and crafts activities," said Alysia Mclain, curator of public programs at the museum. "We focus around Juneau's history, natural environment and culture.
In its second year, Juneau Explorers Week will connect children with their surroundings through these different activities.
Mclain said Monday, the group will go on a bird walk and search for ravens and eagles. The kids will then create comic strips of the birds with comic artist Melissa Griffiths.
Children will then have a chance Tuesday to learn about downtown Juneau with architect Evelyn Rousso, Mclain said. They will also get an opportunity to sketch the buildings and use those sketches to design buildings of their own.
Then, the kids get back into nature.
"(Wednesday) we're going to (be) animal detectives and actually do a nature walk and look at different plants with the focus of what sort of animals eat these plants and why, and how that impacts what their teeth structure is like," she said. "Then, Riley Woodford from Alaska Department of Fish and Game is going to come and do an animal skull identification activity."
She said this will be followed Thursday by a trip to Douglas Island to go ice skating and create eco-art using materials found on Sandy Beach. Friday, the final day, kids will learn about art in Juneau with March solo artist Puanani Maunu.
Juneau Explorers Week has been modeled after a similar program that is held over the summer, but Mclain said the idea of creating a fun, learning environment for kids came about four years ago.
"It started out as a packet of activities that parents could do with their kids around downtown, and ways to learn about your history and the history of Juneau," she said. "We decided to take that packet and create it into a day camp, so we started doing it in August every year, and that's been successful. Last year we decided to try it during Spring Break and just give kids an opportunity to enjoy it another time of year."
Mclain said the organizers try to keep it fresh every year in order to give the kids different experiences.
After we have a session, we think about what we can do differently or what went really well," she said. "For the summer one, gold-panning was super popular so we do that every year. "We try to keep it in the downtown area at places we can walk to as much as possible."
But Mclain said that's not where all the fun is.
"It's also kind of fun to go a little farther out and travel a little bit with the kids," Mclain said. "We are a city museum, so the main focus is on keeping it related to our local history, art and culture."
With all the activities and interaction available to educate and entertain the children, the program has been a success since it began. And it's not just the kids that enjoy it.
"It's one of my favorite weeks," Mclain said. "It's a lot of fun for us and we get a lot of repeat kids that come back from the summer, and that's just great that they're enjoying the program and coming back year after year."
Mclain said the days will begin and end at the city museum. Cost is $25 per day and will cover all expenses, including a light snack. She said if people are interested, they can visit the museum's Web site for registration forms, or they can call 586-3572 for more information.
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