11 Enriching Summer Activities for School-Age Children in the Conejo Valley

With still one month left of summer, you may feel you are running short on ideas to keep your children engaged. As you think of transitioning them back into the school year, we have some recommendations on activities that might spark their interest and encourage some great thinking and creativity.

  1. Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center (Recommended Ages 5-12) This is a great place for a short hike and picnic, while also exploring the culture of the Chumash Indians, Conejo Valley’s earliest residents. We love that this park is rich with history, and you can even talk to a Native American guest host or a park ranger on weekends. Workshops, programs, and art shows are also an option on certain days to enhance the experience. Try reading The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola, or Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, 1653 by Patricia Clark Smith with your child, so they can learn even more about Native American culture and history!
  2. Service Projects for the Family (Recommended Ages 5-16) There are plenty of ways to serve others this summer, while still having fun with the family. Try volunteering at the Children’s Hunger Fund  (http://childrenshungerfund.org/about/ ), which provides meals to local churches that then deliver the food to those in need. In addition to being an important cause, this is a great opportunity for families to engage in meaningful dialogue as they spend the day putting Food Packs together for other children. Another simple way to serve is to make a lemonade stand on those hot summer days and donate the proceeds to a cause of your choice. This is a fun idea for your children to keep entertained, while also supporting others! Finally, when your children need to head back to the store for school supplies, try picking up some extra things to donate to Right Road Kids (http://rightroadkids.org/support-rrk/volunteer/ ). We love that this organization works to uplift children’s self-esteem, creativity, and education by working with them in school. Read The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern with your child, which will inspire them to serve and care for others!
  3. Summer Reading Programs at the Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park Libraries (Recommended Ages 2-16) Every summer, the Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park Libraries run a summer reading program for children, which involves prizes for reading and several fun activities. The simple prizes are an easy way to motivate your children to read a good book, and the program has opportunities for children of all different ages. To make it more exciting, go to the variety of activities and events at the library, like their movie nights, camps, and stage shows (Events Calendar: http://www.tol.lib.ca.us/Kids/2016-SRC-Brochure.pdf ).
  4. Gardens of the World (Recommended Ages 2-16) Gardens of the World shows off beautiful gardens with plants from around the world, where you and your child will have the chance to appreciate the nature of different cultures and learn about each garden. We can’t help but be excited about the summer events happening this summer, which include concerts and art exhibits (Events Calendar: http://www.gardensoftheworld.info/GardensEvent.cfm ). These activities only add to the rich culture of the place that is great for everyone to see. Give your child some extra entertainment by reading The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Or have them choose a science project about flowers and plants, so they can dive deeper into the topic. (Science Project Ideas: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/search.shtml?v=ia&ia=PlantBio&d=1,2,3,4,5&p=3 )
  5. Create Studio in Westlake Village (Recommended Ages 2-14) This studio is the spot for children to hone in on their creative mindset by creating their own kind of art. We especially love that the studio uses a diversity of fun materials for kids to create whatever their imagination wants, which can make them better, more inventive problem solvers! Try taking your child to different camps and events, so they can explore the many different art styles available to them (Program Options: http://createstudiofun.com/education/ ).
  6. Chumash Indian Center (Recommended Ages 5-12) Come to this outdoor museum to learn about the Chumash people and hike through some beautiful surroundings — meadows, oak trees, and gorgeous landscapes. This is a great way for children to honor and understand the Chumash culture, while also being active and outdoors. Have your child read The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola, or Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, 1653 by Patricia Clark Smith to learn more about the Native Americans. You can also become a member to enjoy special events at the museum (Membership Options: http://www.chumashindianmuseum.com/membership.html ).
  7. Stage Coach Inn (Recommended Ages 6-10) The Stage Coach Inn is full of history, as it was originally a hotel in the 1800s and was later used as a post office, military school, and restaurant. Its antique furniture, blacksmith shop, and rose garden are only a few of the features that make this museum so intriguing. Make the trip more fulfilling for you child by going on a tour of the property to see more of the nineteenth-century lifestyle. Also have your child read or watch The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder to better understand life in the 1800s.
  8. Art Trek’s $5 Fridays (Recommended Ages 2-16) Art Trek opens their studio on the third Friday of each month for people to make different art projects of their choice. The environment is saturated with creativity and excitement, and your children will have the chance to explore their own imagination. The next $5 Friday is on August 19th. Take the whole family to make it an even more memorable and fun experience for everyone!
  9. Channel Islands National Park (Recommended Ages 8-16) Come to the Channel Islands to enjoy hiking, picnicking, tidepooling, and more! You and your child can also visit the Robert J Lagomarsino Visitor Center, which has a bookstore, marine life display, different island exhibits, and a 25-minute movie about the park. There is no shortage of ways to spend the day here, and your child will get to learn about California’s marine life and wildlife. Watch Disneynature’s Oceans, or read A Journey into the Ocean (Biomes of North America) by Rebecca L. Johnson with your child to teach them more about the ocean’s environment!
  10. Moorpark College Teaching Zoo (Recommended Ages 4-10) The Moorpark Zoo is open on weekends with a plethora of animal life and activities. We love that this zoo offers opportunities for children to learn more about the animals in the Behind the Scenes Tours (http://zoo.moorparkcollege.edu/visitor-information/ ), where they get to see how the zoo is operated and animals are cared for everyday. Make the zoo an even more exciting experience for your child by having them read A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead and Erin Stead, or try Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham.
  11. Ascension Lutheran’s Summer Staycation(Grades K-8) Ascension Lutheran School holds weekly summer camps, with a different theme and field trip or special activities each week. Every day, they get to enjoy fun experiences — devotions, free play, lunch time, and different activities — that keep them entertained and engaged all day long! Encourage your child to make new friends and enjoy the summer activities at Ascension to make the camp as memorable as possible.