When winter blooms into spring, daylight savings kicks in and we get a little longer in the evening to have family fun. There are so many great activities to share with kids during this time, especially on the spring holidays, weekends and on into summer. Stargaze, go on night creature walks, see how our world looks in bright light versus dim light, have flashlight picnics and play tag games, watch open air movies, and more-all around the Houston area!
How often do we look up up and up? Usually, at night, we are inside, where we miss the bright stars that have inspired and guided humans for millennia. Also, bright city lights obscure a lot of these distant suns and planets. But nearby to Houston, right at George Observatory in scenic Brazos Bend State Park, you can go stargazing on Saturday nights. Check out their family space day and learning center too!
In advance of this cool activity, build some knowledge base with your kids. KidsAstronomy.com offers free sky maps, a guide to the current night sky and phases of the moon, constellation games, and more.
Read some great books about the stars and how humans have admired and used them. Wishing on a Star shares different myths about stars from cultures around the world, and here's a list of great books about stars and space, including one by astronaut Sally Ride!
Nightime Seeing and Listening Walk
Does your little one ever hear nighttime noises outside and get scared or curious? The hoot of an owl, the brush of a tree branch in the wind? One of the best things to do is remove the unknown from the dark outside and go on a listening walk. If this seems scary, try making it a game such as a treasure hunt or observation game. For example:
Start with observing:
Then do a hunt:
Unless you are a naturalist, you might need a little help and preparation in advance. Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena is a wonderful resource for learning about our natural habitat and all the flora and fauna within it. Their owl prowl features a moonlit walk with a guide who identifies all the fascinating night sounds.
Flashlight Picnics and Tag
Your backyard or local park (before curfew!) can be a nighttime wonderland. Something is so exciting to kids about being out and about in the dark, especially because they are usually in bed. Have dinner one evening outdoors with lanterns and flashlights. It's easy to do and one special things kids will always remember and treasure as a memory. Afterwards, star gaze, observe and listen, or play flashlight tag.
There are several ways to play flashlight tag. You can team up and each team creates a "Morse code signal" of flashing the light. Team members then split up and use the "codes" to signal each other. First team to reunite wins! Alternatively, you select on "It" player and everyone else hides until the "It" player finds them with the flashlight, then they join in the hunt!
Make sure to play in a safe space and clearly tell kids safety rules.
Open Air Shows
Houston has many open air show, live and movie, choices for families. In town, Discovery Green offers movies, concerts, and live shows. To the north, Woodlands and surrounding areas should see what's available at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Down south, residents can see what is happening at the popular Movie Nite on the Strand. Out west, Sugarland Town Square offers movies under the moon!
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