Many families right now are looking to create unique learning opportunities away from the screen. After spending the majority of the day in front of a laptop or tablet, it’s great to get your children out of the house to places that are fun and educational. There are a variety of local activities that integrate adventure and learning, ignite imagination, prompt conversation and stir curiosity. Check out this list of kids’ educational activities in Vancouver and throughout Clark County.
There is nothing like finding a new book that transports you into a new world. With mini neighborhood libraries all over Clark County, both you and your kids alike can find books of all kinds that will tickle your imagination. Piling into the car and heading out to spot neighborhood libraries is fun and brings a fun sense of adventure to a ho-hum week, too. There are a couple of fun ways to find the multitude of mini libraries that are in different neighborhoods. Drive around a specific area and make a game out of who can spot one first. Or head to the Little Free Library website, which has locations of registered little libraries around the world. Simply type in the zip code you want to explore, and the map will bring up the mini libraries in that area. The “take a book, share a book” theme of the little free libraries is a great way to teach kids to share, too! So, grab a few books from your own bookshelf that you want to share with the other libraries in the area, and head out for your quest to find books of all kinds that can keep young minds curious and learning. Some local area favorites include:
- The Sunshine Library (Charter #100586) in Vancouver
- My Free Library on the corner of 23rd and Harney in downtown Vancouver
- The Red Robin Free Library on 29th and Washington (Charter #26482)
- Dot’s Little Library (Charter #75843) in Battle Ground
Traveling around town to explore the various murals that adorn walls and buildings in Vancouver can be a fun and educational activity that will give your kids a glimpse into the talented artists in the area. Fifteen years ago, a nonprofit group called the Clark County Mural Society set out to rejuvenate downtown Vancouver and other areas around the area with public art. To date, there are 25 murals in Vancouver and more continue to be created every year.
Many of the murals provide a history lesson. For example, The Remembrance Wall, the largest mural in the state of Washington, honors veterans that served in wars including Vietnam, Korean, World War I and World War II. Not far from that location in Uptown Vancouver, The Firehouse Mascot recognizes the Vancouver Fire Department’s 150-year service to the community.
Some of the best education comes from heading outdoors for discovery. The sights, the smells, and the fresh air can invigorate young minds and give them hands-on opportunities that cannot be found online or in a book. Living in the Pacific Northwest grants residents and visitors many of these one-of-a-kind outdoor learning opportunities. The Burnt Bridge Trail, an eight-mile multi-use trail, allows for walking, biking, jogging and viewing of wildlife along the greenway. There is a combination of grassland and wooded areas, and visitors will be often to be able to see an array of different birds and trees.
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is another wonderful place in the area that is popular to walk and experience the natural world. “The Refuge System is a network of lands and waters across the country with the goal of preserve wildlife and habitats so that we can continue to have healthy communities, and that generations to come can enjoy the healing power of nature,” shares Josie Finley, visitor services manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Our goal is to be deliberate and intentional in what we add to the landscape in order to tell a story and provide learning opportunities.” She explains that in addition to different trails to walk, there is also vehicle tour route with a corresponding audio tour that can be accessed online.
The 5,300-acre area has diverse habitats that support many native wildlife species. There are multiple areas to experience with interpretive signage that is currently being updated. Visitors can regularly find ducks, Canadian geese, swans, eagles, osprey, turkey vultures, and white-tailed deer, just to name a few.
“Science, math, history, you name it, all subjects are embedded in our everyday activities,” says Finley. “I believe any subject can be taught using elements in the outdoors, either at the refuge or just outside your front door.”