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11 Things Every Child Should Do This Summer

 The lure of slowing down over summer sounded idyllic in the whir of hectic school schedules, but what do you do if your child is already singing the summertime boredom blues? Try filling his dance card with this head-spinning assortment of creative, educational, and exhilarating activities. Not only will you fight off boredom, you'll create plenty of new memories while relaxing, playing, and learning together as a family! Kern County has a lot to offer this summer so take full advantage of the amazing places and organizations in your backyard. 

1. Tend a garden. With your child, cultivate containers of herbs, tomatoes, or peppers. Take a digital photo each day to track the progress of the plant's growth. Have your child put the photos in order in a journal and write down any observations. Together, prepare a meal using your child's homegrown produce. LOCAL: Community gardens have begun to pop up around Bakersfield, so if you want to experience a full-service garden without the work and expense of putting one in your own backyard, check out local options at

2. Sleep outdoors. Chris Starnes, a mom of three, says her family loves to camp. They look forward to hiking, biking, swimming, and a break from electronics. Want to take your family? Starnes suggests downloading a camping checklist from the internet and reserving a site at a state park. "State parks are clean and well-patrolled, and there are usually activities for the kids at some point during the day or weekend," she says. "Go where there is a playground. And, don't camp too far from restrooms--think evening or middle of the night trips!" LOCAL: Kern County has fabulous campgrounds and hiking trails available from Lake Isabella to Tehachapi to Buena Vista Lake. To find the nearest campground closest to you and one your family is sure to enjoy, visit 

3. Stare at the stars. On a clear night, direct your family's gaze toward the heavens. Try identifying a few of the 88 different constellations, many of which are named after mythological men, women, and animals. Is your child interested in learning more about the characters dotting the celestial night sky? Read D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. LOCAL: If you want to find out the best place to gaze upward, check out The Kern Astronomical Society has a lot of information about local viewing parties and places to see the best astronomical phenomenon. 

4. Build and fly a kite. "The experience never fails to fill adults and kids with wonder every time they fly a kite," says Sean Beaver, a kite enthusiast and father of two. Kite flying is an inexpensive and relaxing activity. Check out the American Kite Association website,, which provides educational resources, including the history of kites and the science and math behind kite flying. LOCAL: Kern County has an extensive park program with various locations with big open spaces perfect for flying a kite. To find the best park closest to you, visit North of the River Recreation and Park District’s website at 

5. Pick berries. Bring summer home in a bucket of berries. Check out to find a farm near you. Celebrate the fruits of your labor by baking muffins or enjoying berries over homemade ice cream! LOCAL: What better local spot to pick berries than at Murray Family Farms, located at 6700 General Beale Rd. They offer all kinds of fun activities, festivals, and even have a summer day camp for kids ages 5 to 14. Check out their website at 

6. Go local. Area farmer's markets offer an assortment of colorful, seasonal produce. There's no better time to taste locally grown foods and experiment with new wholesome recipes in the kitchen with your child. LOCAL: Bakersfield has a lot of farmers’ markets and roadside stands. You can visit Haggin Oaks Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 8800 Ming Avenue and Brimhall Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings from 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the corner of Brimhall and Calloway Roads. 

7. Cook up a story. Recipes help kids practice math and reading skills, bu try giving cooking a literary twist that will delight even preschoolers. Read a book like If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff and make pancakes together. An older child who likes The Little House on the Prairie series, might enjoy The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker. Got a Star Wars fan? Check out the Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

8. Tour a working farm. Show your child how foods make it to grocery store shelves by touring a local farm or dairy. Many places offer tours by appointment and schedule themed events. LOCAL: At CALM Zoo your children can find all kinds of domestic and farm animals in their petting zoo. Children can see roosters, touch and feel the lamb’s wool and goat’s hair, and even feed them. For more information, visit

9. Chase fireflies. Fireflies like grassy, humid areas near ponds and lakes, as well as treed areas and fields, away from urban lights. To attract fireflies to your garden or yard try turning off your home's exterior lights. If you capture any fireflies, put them in a ventilated jar with a wet paper towel to keep the jar humid and allow the fireflies to breathe. LOCAL: Due to light pollution and insecticides, firefly populations have decreased. Be sure and let them go after you're done admiring their flashing lights. To learn more about fireflies, visit

10. Birdwatch. Learning about birds local to the area helps children appreciate and build interest in their natural surroundings. Purchase or make a bird feeder to attract birds to your backyard. Use a local bird guide and listen for different bird song to try and identify the birds visiting your yard. LOCAL: To find out what local birds and trips are available, check out the Kern Audubon Society’s information on They have a lot of exciting and educational projects planned for their chapter and community. 

11. Plan hometown field trips. New experiences help kids learn, grow and feel a connection to their community. Check out the multitude of museums on topics that might interest your child and explore historical landmarks. LOCAL: You can celebrate the history and culture of Kern County at the Kern County Museum and Lori Brock Discovery Center.For more information, visit

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Tags: Education, Enrichment, Featured Story, Parenting, Toddler, Tweens & Teens

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