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Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

Places to Go With Children

Posted by nechc on May 16, 2011

Originally posted by Cheryl Wilcox at her blog.  Cheryl has closed her blog, but gave us this information to share here.  We would like to congratulate Cheryl on the birth of her sixth child last night.

I am writing this post for people coming to the New England Catholic Homeschool Conference, who may want to stick around the Chicopee area for the weekend, and are wondering what there is to do around here. Or maybe for Dads who are looking to do something with their children while their wives are at the conference. Or maybe for people who live here inWestern Massachusetts and want to read my long-winded commentary about local area attractions.

 First of all, let me tell you that there is a great blog called Exploring Western Massachusetts. On its “Things to Do” page you’ll find links to over eighty Things to Do and nearly fifty Museums. But if you want to narrow it down a bit, here’s my list.


Springfield Museums

21 Edwards Street

Springfield, MA 01103

(413) 263-6800 or 800-625-7738

This is actually a group of five museums and The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. So you can spend the whole day here and not see everything. You could spend a whole day in just the Science Museum and not see everything. That’s the only one we usually go to. My kids love it. My younger ones melt down before we can check out the rest of the museums. Of course, we all love Horton, and we often eat a picnic lunch on the green near the sculpture garden. It is less than 15 minutes from the conference location.

Children’s Museum at Holyoke

444 Dwight Street

Holyoke, MA 01040

(413) 536-7048

This one is just 10 minutes from the conference location, which is a plus. Children’s museums are not my favorite places to go, but the kids love them… (I never said I was good at writing reviews.) I believe this museum has been popular with homeschoolers. I remember hearing about people enjoying meeting here weekly when their children were young. (Ages 8 and under is suggested in a book I have.) Once a year was enough for me. The museum is in Holyoke Heritage State Park. Also located there is the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. It’s just a short walk from the museum. I’ve been there a couple of times for birthday parties and it’s very nice. It’s the same merry-go-round I used to ride as a child at Mountain Park. (Awwww.)

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

125 West Bay Rd.

Amherst, MA 01002

(413) 658-1100

Our membership here just expired. We’ve visited it fairly regularly for the past two years. What I really like about it is that it’s simple. It’s a relaxing place to go to with a variety of ages. My experience has been that some places can be stressful when one age group is in one place, and I’m nursing the baby, and the toddler keeps taking off. That’s not the case here. We often start in the library. It’s a picture book heaven. I can read to the kids or just peruse the books while the older ones read and the younger ones play with the wooden toys and puppets. Next we go to the art studio. Everyone can do the Public Art Program project currently available. There is a place for little ones to play while the others are creating. Sometimes we go to a film in the auditorium which is usually a 10-30 minute Scholastic Books video.  Then we go to the gallery to see the exhibits. There’s a café for lunch, but I usually pack our own. Or we go before or after lunch. Once we ate at Antonio’s Pizza in Amherst for lunch. Penderwicks fans or pizza lovers might be interested. (The Carle is 32 minutes from the conference location.)

Old Sturbridge Village

1 Old Sturbridge Village Road

Sturbridge, MA 01566

(508) 347-3362

It’s about 42 minutes from the conference location. We had a membership to OSV last year. We’ve enjoyed going there alone and also meeting up with friends from the eastern part of the state. I haven’t been there (or any of these places) on the weekends, when I imagine it’s much more crowded. I love this place where I can fantasize about living with so few possessions. (Of course, I would probably want to live in the Salem Towne House.) My children have enjoyed a puppet show, seeing how things were made back then, and their favorite place seems to be the indoor children’s museum. There they can pretend to work in the general store, on a farm, live in an home in that period, etc. There is more than you can see and do in one day here. It’s well worth the drive (coming from someone who doesn’t like to drive.) As for food, we ate lunch in the Tavern cafeteria once when we were traveling and I remember it being acceptable. Usually we bring a picnic lunch to eat on the green.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

281 Greenfield Road

South Deerfield, MA 01373

(413) 665-2805

This place is unique. It’s beautiful. If you have children who love butterflies, you may want to make the trip. (It’s about 36 minutes from the conference location.) I had a couple of butterflies land on me when we went. I think the suggestion is to wear bright or light clothing. The employees were knowledgeable and ready to answer questions. I don’t think you could spend a day here. I remember it being extremely warm in the conservatory, so warm, that we left it and went back in later after we cooled off. There is a restaurant and a gift shop. If you do go there, then you may also want to go to the Yankee Candle Flagship Store in South Deerfield. It’s just 3 minutes away, on the same road, and it’s much more than a candle store. I used to visit it often when the kids were younger. Back then they would enjoy the BavarianVillage, theNutcracker Castle, the trains running on tracks through different rooms, the puppet band, Santa’s Toy Shop and more. We’d sit outside and have a picnic on a picnic table in a gazebo – so pretty. Now I’d rather not bring them to a place that will make them want to buy things. (The toy store is huge.) But if you’re not from around here, the place is quite a sight to see. 

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

1000 West Columbus Avenue

Springfield, MA 01001

(413) 781-6500 or (877) 4-HOOPLA

I haven’t been to the new museum that opened in 2002. I probably went to the old one when I was about twenty. I’m listing it because if you or someone in your family is a huge basketball fan, then you probably won’t want to miss it. It’s just 10 minutes away from the conference location.

Rainy Day Fun

AMF Bowling – Airway Lanes

1387 Liberty St.

Springfield, MA 01104

(413) 733-7865

Big balls and candlepin -your basic bowling alley I guess. We used to go here for homeschool bowling once a month, before we cut back on expenses. If you like grilled hot dogs and cheeseburgers and fries, you’ll enjoy their lunch food. I was surprised at how yummy it was. Way better than fast food.

Springfield Cinemas


1250 St. James Avenue

Springfield, MA 01104

I’ve never been to this one, but my relatives have. I think it’s nice. And it’s close to the bowling alley.

Rave Motion Pictures West Springfield

864 Riverdale Road

West Springfield, MA 01089

(413) 733-5131

This is the theater I always go to – once or twice a year, when I actually go to the movies. It’s a typical cinema. Movies, bathrooms, food… overpriced buttered popcorn and soft drinks.Riverdale Road is the home of nearly every chain restaurant in Western Mass, which is convenient for date nights. What are those, you say?

Things to Do Outdoors

Stanley Park

400 Western Avenue

Westfield, MA 01085

(413) 568-9312

I may be biased because this park is close to where I live, but I think it’s the best around.

#1 It’s gorgeous. (Check out the pictures in the Major Points of Interest section on their website.)

#2 It’s Free.

#3 You can play basketball, tennis, soccer, walk on trails, through flower gardens, by the ponds, see ducks, swans, dinosaur tracks, old buildings, fountains, frogs, (stay away from the geese), play on the playscapes, in the sand, have a picnic, and more….

#4 It’s FREE!

(It’s about 29 minutes from the conference.)

Look Park

300 North Main St.

Florence, MA 01062

(413) 584-5457

This park is approximately 30 minutes from the conference location, which is about the same time away as StanleyPark, but in a different direction. This park is also beautiful, and it has it all – a train, pedal boats, miniature golf, bumper boats, refreshments, playgrounds, a zoo, a water spray park, picnic areas, and more. You can spend the whole day here. We’ve been there for office picnics and family reunions. My kids love this place. The down side though, is there are lots of fees.

Forest Park

Sumner Avenue

Springfield, MA

(413) 787-6434

I haven’t been to Forest Park in years, but my friends go there often. There doesn’t appear to be a park website, but there is one for The Zoo in Forest Park. I found out online that the park has (in addition to the zoo) : a playground, picnic area, pool, fountain and spray structure,  sports fields, tennis courts and a public ice skating facility. I remember the duck pond from my childhood. (Mapquest guesses it’s 14 minutes from the conference location.)


Nash Hill Road

Ludlow, MA 01056

(413) 589-9883

I used to go there with the kids once a year, until the admission fees went up. It was always fun. I couldn’t believe there were giraffes inLudlow. There was much more to see at Lupa than at the other local zoos. They had a small playground and a picnic area that wasn’t that clean, but it was acceptable. Lots of good photo opportunities.

Six Flags New England

1623 Main Street
Agawam, Massachusetts 01001
(413) 786-9300

We always have a great time at Six Flags. It’s expensive as amusement parks usually are, but sometimes when you’re on vacation you splurge. And last year, my sister got us free tickets. (added by Christine: There are many people immodestly dressed here, so don’t go if you are easily offended by other people’s clothing choices.)

Quabbin Reservoir

485 Ware Rd.(Rte.9)

Belchertown, MA 01007

(413) 323-7221

I haven’t been to Quabbin since I was an itty bitty school girl on a field trip. I don’t remember too much about the experience. But Quabbin Reservoir has a fascinating history, and my friend just wrote about a trip she took there with her family recently, so I put it on my mental list of things to do this summer. Maybe you might like to go there too. Mapquest says it’s 37 minutes from the conference location.

The Robert E. Barrett Fishway at the Holyoke Dam

(413) 659-3714 or (413) 659-4462

I’ve never been to it, but I’m including it on my list because it’s educational, it’s close to the conference location, and I believe it’s the time of year for the fish to migrate. I found a review of the place here.

Well, there you have it. If you’re coming to the conference this year, I hope you have a wonderful conference experience. I know that I found last year’s conference to be inspiring. I left the day with a comforting sense of peace.


Posted in Catholic Homeschooling, conferences, Events, Family fun, Field Trips, Historical sites, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Museums, Summer | Leave a Comment »

End of Year picnic

Posted by nechc on June 2, 2008

Please join us for First Friday June 6th
Last one of year!  at
Our Lady of the Lake in Southwick, MA.

Please invite grandparents and those interested in homeschooling in the future. Tell Dad!
Bring a main dish, drinks and a dish to share. Bring an outside toy and tablecloth if the weather is nice.
Mass at 11pm.
Father Henry follows this with Adoration and makes Confession available.
We’ll gather in the pavilion for Grace and lunch. Kids may enjoy the outdoors. Moms may sell/trade their used books. Please introduce yourself to any new families
who join us.
 Can’t wait to see you! Can’t wait for the year to be done!

Posted in Catholic Homeschooling, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Summer, support groups | Leave a Comment »

Bored Box (Summer is Coming!)

Posted by nechc on April 30, 2008

 Every year I look forward to the end of teaching and giving the kids a little freedom, until the first, “I’m Bored!!” whines out of a little mouth. Here is a plan I adopted from one of my first Homeschool friends 12 years ago: The Bored BoxPrint the list below and cut apart after reading the choices and rules to your kids.
Here are the Rules:
#1 Announcing you are bored means you are being boring. We will save your siblings and parents from you by giving you a gift of making you do the item you pick from the bored box.
#1a You must do the activitiy for a full 30 mins, timed!
#1b You must clean up the activity. #2 Mom must allow you to do whatever the list says (unless it interferes with Mass.)
#2a Mom may not separate the list into Boy vs. Girl activities or fun vs. chores. Its up to God what you get to do!
#2b Mom may review this list or add to it before starting the game.
1) ride bikes
2) roller skate
3) play basketball / shoot baskets
4) play board games
5) make a tent out of blankets
6) squirt with hoses
7) run through the sprinkler
8) jump rope
9) read books
10) blow bubbles
11) make homemade play dough
12) play with play dough
13) press flowers
14) do crafts with pressed flowers
15) write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
16) clean bedroom
17) vacuum living room
18) clean bathroom
19) make a craft
20) draw
21) color
22) paint
23) pull weeds
24) watch a movie
25) write stories
26) use binoculars
27) use magnifying glass
28) use microscope
29) bird watching
30) write a play
31) act out a play
32) invent circus acts
33) perform a circus
34) play card games
35) make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
36) play catch
37) play baseball
38) collect rocks
39) collect leaves
40) collect feathers
41) play Frisbee
42) make Frisbee’s out of old plastic lids; decorate with markers
43) dust the house
44) brush the pet
45) write “thank you” cards
46) read a magazine
47) play dress-up
48) play Cowboys
49) pick vegetables
50) play outside with the pet
51) build a fort in your rooms
52) build a fort in the backyard
53) do a jigsaw puzzle
54) play on the Geosafari or other school game
55) play on the computer
56) listen to a story or book on tape
57) do extra schoolwork to get ahead
58) do brain teasers (i.e.: crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures,mazes,etc.)
59) cook
60) prepare lunch
61) surprise a neighbor with a good deed
62) play store
63) prepare a “restaurant” lunch with menus
64) hold a tea party
65) have a Teddy bear picnic
66) play with toy cars
67) play dolls
68) play house
69) chase butterflies
70) collect caterpillars and bugs
71) plant a garden patch or a pot of flowers
72) collect seeds
73) hunt for four-leaf clovers
74) learn magic tricks
75) put on a magic show
76) plant a container garden
77) sprout seeds or beans
78) make sock puppets
79) put on a puppet show
80) make Christmas presents
81) make homemade wrapping paper
82) make homemade gift cards
83) make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
84) crochet or knit
85) make doll clothes
86) sew buttons in designs onto old shirts
87) run relay races
88) make bookmarks
89) take a quiet rest time
90) take a shower or bath
91) bathe a pet
92) feed the birds or squirrels
93) watch the clouds
94) organize a dresser drawer
95) clean under the bed
96) wash the dishes
97) vacuum under the couch cushions; keep any change found
98) write more ideas onto pieces of paper; pick out one or two to do
99) whittle
100) whittle bars of soap
101) practice musical instruments
102) perform a family concert
103) teach yourself to play a musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
104) fold laundry
105) sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
106) sweep front walkway
107) sweep or spray back patio
108) sweep or spray driveway
109) wash car
110) vacuum car
111) vacuum or dust window blinds
112) clean bathroom mirrors
113) clean sliding glass doors
114) clean inside of car windows
115) wash bicycles
116) clean garage
117) play in the sandbox
118) build a sandcastle
119) work with clay
120) copy your favorite book illustration
121) design your own game
122) build with blocks or LEGOs
123) create a Design Box for craft supplies (copper wire, string,odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
124) plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
125) have a marble tournament
126) paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
127) finger paint with pudding
128) make dessert
129) make dinner
130) give your pet a party
131) paint the sidewalk with water
132) start a journal of summer fun
133) start a nature diary
134) have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
135) have a neighborhood bike wash
136) play flashlight tag
137) play Kick the Can
138) check out a science book and try some experiments
139) make up a story
140) arrange photo albums
141) find bugs and start a collection
142) do some stargazing
143) decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
144) catch butterflies and then let them go
145) play hide-and-seek
146) create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
147) listen to the birds sing
148) try to imitate bird calls
149) read a story to a younger child
150) find shapes in the clouds
151) string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
152) glue noodles into a design on paper
153) play hopscotch
154) play jacks
155) make up a song
156) make a teepee out of blankets
157) write in your journal
158) find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
159) play charades
160) make up a story by drawing pictures
161) draw a cartoon strip
162) make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
163) call a friend164) cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
165) make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
166) do a secret service for a neighbor
167) plan a treasure hunt
168) make a treasure map
169) make up a “Bored List” of things to do
170) plan a special activity for your family
171) search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
172) plan an imaginary trip to the moon
173) plan an imaginary trip around the world; decide where you would want to go
174) write a science-fiction story
175) find a new pen pal
176) make up a play using old clothes as costumes
177) make up a game for practicing math facts
178) have a Spelling Bee
179) make up a game for practicing spelling
180) surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
181) fingerpaint with shaving cream
182) collect sticks and mud and build a bird’s nest
183) write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
184) put together a family newsletter
185) write reviews of movies, plays, TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
186) bake a cake
187) bake a batch of cookies
188) decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
189) make a hideout or clubhouse
190) make paper airplanes
191) have paper airplane races
192) learn origami
193) make an obstacle course in your backyard
194) make friendship bracelets for your friends
195) make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
196) paint your face
197) braid hair
198) play tag
199) make a sundial
200) make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins,cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
201) make a terrarium
202) start a club
203) take a nap outside on your lawn
204) produce a talent show
205) memorize a poem
206) recite a memorized poem for your family
207) read the newspaper
208) write a Letter to the Editor about an article or issue in the newspaper
and my add-on:
209) brainstorm and decide on your Science Fair, History Fair topic
All Saint’s Costume or country for International Fair!Then dig in!!
210) Read Scout book
211) Work on a Scout badge
212) Call a friend
213) Call a Grandparent
214) Call a cousin
215) Set up tent in the yard
216) Camp in back yard
217) Write a letter
218) Go to Mass
219) Go to confession
220) Say a prayer
221) Put on Christian music
222) Put on Classical Music
223) Read from Bible
224) Read about a saint
225) sort pictures
226) Jump Rope
227) clean pool
228) walk dog
229) make grocery list 


Posted in Catholic Homeschooling, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Summer | Leave a Comment »