At the Zoo
It's a fact—kids love animals! Zoos are a natural destination in the summer, when you've got time to coordinate family outings without worrying about school and homework. But chances are that summer's sunny days and high temperatures have most of the animals on your kids' Most Wanted list either snoozing or hiding. On cooler fall days, you're more likely to find the animals playing, eating, and easy to spot. The crowds are likely to be smaller once summer's done, and you'll be able to spend more time walking and enjoy one another's company without wilting in the heat. In fact, rates at some zoos are lower in what they consider the "off-season" although weather conditions can be ideal for a visit. The Bronx Zoo, for example, lowers rates after October 26th, but is open to the public 365 days a year. If you're not sure where to find a zoo, visit www.goodzoos.com and click "Find a Zoo Near You."
Lend a Helping Hand
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, fall is a great time to involve your kids in a project to help them learn about being grateful for what they have and being altruistic to those who aren't as fortunate. Kids who learn the value of volunteering at a young age are more likely to stick with it for life. Contact your church or synagogue to find out if there's a soup kitchen where your family can help out. There are lots of jobs kids can do in the kitchen, like washing and peeling veggies or preparing sandwiches. For other volunteering ideas, visit Volunteer Match at www.volunteermatch.org. You can search for volunteer opportunities in your zip code and can include "great for kids" or "great for teens" in the search criteria. If your kids aren't old enough to participate in a volunteer project, get them to help you clean out closets, collecting outgrown clothes and unused toys, and explain your reasons for donating them to a shelter or non-profit group. In a busy and competitive world, parents lavish more material things on their kids than ever before, trying to make sure their children have every advantage. Yet most parents also feel their kids are spoiled and appreciate toys and gifts less than previous generations. What better way to teach your family the value of what they have than to teach them about how many people live without necessities like enough food or warm clothes? Volunteering together can be fun, but the lessons kids will learn from participating will last a lifetime.