It's that time of year again. No, I'm not talking about the lights and wrapping paper and pageantry, I'm talking about school vacation. There are a wealth of things to do in our area, but how can we take advantage of all of those things without effecting our own wealth? Here are some ideas, feel free to add your own in the comments section.
1. Bake: We spent yesterday creating felt gift tag/ ornaments for everyone and their brother (they were fun) and today we're doing our first gingerbread house. Shockingly, it's turning out. Here's the recipe I used: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Gingerbread-House-103229. Kids had a blast yesterday picking out fun things to decorate the house.
2. Craft: There are more holiday/ winter crafts than you can shake a stick at. Our big craft was cutting pieces of felt into mitten and elf shoe shapes, then we used Tacky glue to attach a loop of yarn, I wrote people's names in puff paint and then the kids went crazy glitzing it out with little tchotchke. They are adorable and a good time was had by all.
- Other crafts that we do this time of year is keepsake kind of crafts. Each year we trace the kids hands and they decorate them. We laminate them and attach them with ribbon and then each year use them for a tree decoration. This is a great grandparent gift as well. We also make end of the year little books, where the kids fill out a little survey on themselves, ages, teachers, favorites, etc. Then they draw a picture of themselves.
- Make a time capsule. This is one of my favorite things to do. Find a box, decorate it and put in some of the big headlines from right now, have the kids put what they love into the box (photos or list), I also will take a ribbon to their height and put that in the box. Even a year later, they are fun to look at!
- New York State Museum: I know, you've been there 1000 times. But, this is one of my favorite museums of all time because even the non-kind friendly exhibits are kid proofed enough so the kids can really interact with this museum in any way they choose. I find we can go back over and over and still not get enough:
http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ Plus, on Tuesday 12/28 from 4- 9 is their annual Kwanzaa celebration.
- Albany Art Room: It's not super cheap, but the experience that the kids have there is worth every dime. I highly recommend getting the kids a canvas and letting them explore being an artist with the real stuff.
- Public Bath #2: We don't know how long it will be open, but it's a super cheap indoor pool worth checking out: http://www.albanyny.org/Government/Departments/Recreation/PublicBath.aspx
- The Library: The Albany public libraries have amazing programs all week long. You could spend your whole week there: http://www.albanypubliclibrary.org/
- Albany Institute of History and Art: There are neat classes there for not too much during the week for kids. While this isn't the cheapest option around, it's still a neat one: http://www.albanyinstitute.org/
- CMOST: There are amazing programs all week at CMOST (Monday, the Science of a snowflake, Wednesday create a Kalidescope), most are free for members or $2 with admission for non-members. Registration is required: http://www.cmost.org/
- Steamer 10 is also a wonderful place and a great way to have your children appreciate the theater: http://www.steamer10theatre.org/
Okay, most things depend on snow, but sometimes a little goes a long way:
- Ice Skating: Swinburne is great and you can rent skates: http://www.albanyny.org/Government/Departments/Recreation/SwinburneSkatingRink.aspx
If you have skates, the sky's the limit! Go for a spin on Buckingham Pond-
- Cross country skiing: If you have your own skiis, you can ski anywhere really. We love to go for spins at Ridgefield, but most parks are great for a spin around with proper snowfall. If you don't have your own skiis, check out one of the local ski places: http://www.crosscountryskinewyork.com/cross-countryskinewyork1.htm
- Have a 4th grader? Take advantage of the downhill ski passport: http://www.44free.com/
- Go for a hike: of course, there's 5 rivers, you can also rent snowshoes from them for only $5: http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/1835.html
If you haven't been to Christman Preserve, it's worth it (although a warning that one trail might be trecharous when it's icy- it's easy to avoid though and most of the hike is easy and beautiful): http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Christman_Sanctuary_0160.asp
Peebles Island State Park is also a fantastic place: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/111/details.aspx
If you haven't been to the Pine Bush center, it's worth it! http://www.albanypinebush.org/
That's off the top of my head, I'm sure I've missed a bunch, are you doing anything fun or did you do anything fun?