Green Time Over Screen Time: Things to Do from The Trustees Over April Vacation Week
We all know Earth Day is coming up this month, but did you know that April is also ‘Child and Nature Awareness Month?” And for good reason, as the average child today spends more than seven hours of time on a screen per day, not even counting computer time at school or homework time (from a 2015 study by Common Sense Media). It seems every week there’s a new study about the benefits for children of time spent in nature (Improves eyesight! Lowers stress levels! Increases attention span and lessens ADHD symptoms!), but where to start, especially if you’re not the outdoorsiest parent yourself?
The Trustees, Massachusetts’s largest conservation and preservation organization has got you covered with 116 properties, over 350 miles of trails, and expert nature educators. 50% of the Trustees more than 5,000 annual programs focus on connecting children and families to Massachusetts’s natural and cultural treasures in hopes that they will grow up to become stewards of the environment.
Below, find a list of different activities (some drop off, some drop in) coming up this April Vacation Week in Metro Boston. Farming, hiking, scavenger hunts, fairy games, and crafting are just a few of the options for kids of all ages to explore this spring.
North of Boston
Become a Farmer for a Day at Appleton Farms in Ipswich. Kids will get to help care for the, cows, goats, sheep, bunnies and more, learn about the growing process, make crafts from natural materials, and explore the farm in the springtime. The farm will also host its popular Farm Felting and Mason Jar Terrariums workshops.
For kids 6-10, Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover has a Young Naturalists where participants will put on their explorer hats and head out into nature to see what’s changing in the animal kingdom. The property also offers a Teen Explorers Night Hike for ages 13 and up.
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich will host an Eye Spy Hike and a Toad Trek, both of which include a walk through the dunes and forest of the Crane Wildlife Refuge.
West of Boston
Farmer for a Day programs at Powisset Farm in Dover also focus on adorable animal care, planting herbs and veggies, cooking up some tasty treats in the state-of-the-art farm kitchen, learning about composting and more.
For older kids with an interest in history or literature, National Historic Landmark, The Old Manse in Concord, offers special family-friendly tours throughout vacation week, that will teach kids about the famous past residents and visitors (Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne) and see some of the things that makes the house so special—like notes etched onto window panes with a diamond ring.
Fruitlands Museum in Harvard has a Family Hike, where educators will share fun facts about the property’s history, land, and wildlife throughout time spent on the trails. Fruitlands will also host a Scavenger Hunt Challenge where adults and children work together to follow clues around the grounds and museum buildings.
For fantasy-lovers, Francis William Bird Park in Walpole offers Fairy House Fun and Fruitlands Museum will have a Fairy Festival.
South of Boston
At Farmer for a Week at Weir River Farm in Hingham, kids will explore the property from the barnyard, to the fields, to the forest – and along the way learn about life on the farm, play games, and create memories. At Preschool Explorers at Weir River Farm, your littles littles will meet the horses, cows, pigs, sheep, hens, goats, plant seeds in the greenhouse, collect eggs and more.
World’s End Explorers, also in Hingham, is great for children of all ages and will alternate between coastal and woodland sessions Monday through Thursday of vacation week. Watch your kids experience the return of spring by investigating the shores and woodlands for signs of the new season!
For more ideas on how to get outside in every season, visit thetrustees.org.