Spring Break at museums near you: three totally free places to take kids + Flat Stanley - MetroFamily Magazine
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Spring Break at museums near you: three totally free places to take kids + Flat Stanley

by Callie Collins

Oklahoma City family fun can be free, easy and perfect for springtime.

Spring Break is starting, here and now, at our house. Depending on your district, it begins tomorrow or next week and may or may not extend to the week after. #confusing.

If you're looking for Spring Break activities, find them here.

Our plans are in place, though, and I am determined to make it a great break time for my kids. Just not having to get everyone out the door is a relief for our mornings. My husband is a teacher and he'll be off for part of the time, which is great because I literally have not seen him this week; he teaches college at night and has had parent/teacher conferences after hours each day too. As a teacher's wife, I can attest to the fact that teachers need the downtime after grading at home to be able to post nine week report cards and just all that time standing. We worry about knee replacements and arch supports and how to offset all the physical effort that also goes along with the profession.

So it'll be good for our children to see their Dad and worry less about their schedule. There's a fine balance to keeping kids engaged and letting them recharge.

My solution is to plan some activities for the weekends but leave the weekdays open for the non-working parent to decide how to spend the time, whether that's just with family brunches and late starts or taking them to do activities they enjoy more than I do, like the new "Bumblebee" movie. I'm definitely the go-see-and-do parent and he's the chill-with-me parent. It's a good balance. I also tend to choose weekend activities so I can participate too. There's nothing worse than #workingmomguiltwhen your family gets to go do something but you just can't find a way to make it work in your schedule, so I'm not buying into that; there's a workaround to making those memories with them.

That's the context I feel like is surrounding the whole breaks from school topic. I'm not into just watching my familychill the entire week. Even when I don't think mykids are really taking in the information or the experience, it's amazing to me how a random comment or anecdote proves months later that they actually did, even at museums that are easy to write off because kids may not naturally gravitate towards venues that aren't what they're used to in their daily lives as children's venues.

My first grader's class project for March is to photograph Flat Stanley aka Mat Man, a one-dimensional character outlined on copy paper, in different locations throughout Spring Break. I know this project is intended to work pretty much anywhere, whether families just go to the park or have a picnic, but we're going to give Flat Stanley a tour of the city and hope Dad wants to come too.

Here are three totally free weekend activities you can count on for this Spring Break:

Spring Break at the Arcadia Round Barn: The Arcadia Round Barn has such a detailed history that's all preserved to give kids a sense of life and local agricultural ties. We always enjoy going to farmers markets there in the summertime so getting to stop by early foreshadows what we'll do soon on a more regular basis. This time, though, there are free games, crafts and live music and it's not weekends-only. Staff and volunteers are on-site every day now through March 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find info here.I know Flat Stanley will show an authentic part of Route 66 in front of the Round Barn.

Spring Thing at Gaylord-Pickens Museum/Oklahoma Hall of Fame: There are activities on weekends but also every single day of Spring Break. You could find something different for each day through March 23 and that programming includes a snack, a story, information about a Hall of Fame honoree and a giveaway. I am not doing a single Spring Break camp this year but I know this is an option for kids between 10:30 and 1:30 each day of the break. The fact that the museum offers these services to the public as just a neat thing to do in our community is an amazing thing and we'll take a day and go check them out. Flat Stanley can pose alongside bronze busts of famous Oklahomans.

Oklahoma Farm-to-Table Family Festival at Oklahoma History Center: Saturday, March 23 is the big day for this new festival experience. This winter has been so gray, I'm ready to get outdoors and step into spring with my sons. Dutch oven and chuckwagon cooking are part of the day. Gardening is a topic that will be covered too, which I'd like to do more of but have never had success at; after a winter of growing amaryllises in vases, I would like to try for some vegetables and teach my kids more about where food comes from, besides just the grocery store. Healthy eating is a theme here but within a local context that's tangible for kids, with a historical backdrop and the fact that it's offered without charge makes it even easier to take Flat Stanley.

We are starting our Spring Break at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Bison Bonanza Sleepover tomorrow night. It'll be memorable since we've never slept in a museum before; in fact, I'm going to check later and see if "Night at the Museum" is still on Netflix to prep the kids for the evening. There's still space available if you want to join us. It's a fun evening of activities within the new bison exhibit, includingmaking an enrichment snack for the bison at the Oklahoma City Zoo and then seeing those bison at the Zoo on Saturday morning. Flat Stanley will be there with us too.

No matter how you spend your Spring Break, I hope it's both restful and entertaining for all involved, kids, parents and teachers. If you see us around town, stop and say hi! We'll be the family holding up a cardboard cutout in all our photos.

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