Go to a Police Station

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Whether your kids are in grade school or still just babies, a visit to a local police station is a fantastic outing for the whole family. Older kids can learn about the profession and have a positive experience with our brave workers in blue, while younger kids will just have so many sensory elements to take in. We were lucky enough to win a behind-the-scenes tour of our local station at a raffle. Here we are about to go in; Veronika looks so psyched for the tour, and Travis looks a bit nervous!

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The first obvious draw is the chance to meet real police officers! This meant posing with the chief of police and all his medals.

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Plus checking out all the computers and controls in the 9-1-1 call center.

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For little kids who don’t understand what they’re seeing on the tour, there was so much to look at: computer screens, shiny medals, bold blue uniforms, and all those badges!

Bigger kids of course will understand what they’re looking at, and get to check out stuff with serious “wow” factor, like a a real policeman’s handcuffs…

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…and real jail cells.

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Has your family visited a local station? Please share in the comments!

 

Go to the Fair

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It’s been a while since I posted a suggested field trip for your baby, but with the season of fall festivals upon us, I remembered: the fair!

Although the under-age-one set will be too young for any rides, there is so much else to see and do at a fair. Veronika loved watching her big brother play all the games to start, under crisp fall sunshine.

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She delighted in the baby goats and other animals to see and feel, and got to take in the sights, sounds, and smells listening to music over a picnic table lunch.

Fall festivals often include family-friendly fare like hay rides, pumpkin patches, and more. So get out there and enjoy before the season is over!

Grocery Store Game

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When she was very little, I grocery shopped with Veronika against my chest in the Ergo carrier, napping more often than not. Now that she’s big enough to sit up and look around, I highly recommend a seat cover with an infant booster. Veronika sits happily ensconced and gets to take in all the sights and sounds of the grocery store – one of my very favorite locations for language-learning and texture exploration!

Instead of racing through my list today, I set aside extra time for Veronika and I to shop slowly and talk about each item we purchased. There was a crinkly bag of lettuce to scrunch in her hands.

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Next we talked about colors – like bold green zucchini!

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She loved the papery feel of a head of garlic.

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And playing with the wrappers of energy bars.

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Temperature is another fun area to discuss, like the cold items from the refrigerator case. And a dehydrated soup cup makes sounds like a maraca!

Engage your child’s senses fully in this way and you might just get lucky and be that parent at checkout whose baby is not fussing.

Take a Train Ride

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We’ve had lots of firsts for Veronika lately, everything from swimming to hiking to rides in a bucket swing. Today’s new activity was her first train ride!

I set the stage for the big event in the morning, pulling out a few old train track toys (be careful baby doesn’t put magnet trains in his or her mouth), and singing train songs.

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Then we made pretend tickets and played train at home!

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Big brother Travis loved helping with this step.

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Finally it was time for the real thing. Unless you truly have a destination in mind, the best bet is to go to your local station and just ride one stop or two. Our 9 minute ride was the perfect distance to engage Veronika without overwhelming her.

As we waited on the platform, I pointed out other trains going by, as well as the people waiting.

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Here comes the train!

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On board, she had a blast! She loved looking out the window (and okay, playing with the vents under the window). We listened to the crackle of announcements and the ding of the doors.

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Another adventure, under her belt!

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Game of Soccer

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Now that spring is here, I’m taking Veronika on more outdoor excursions. One great way to spend time with your almost-six-month-old is to catch a local game of soccer! Not only will watching the action strengthen his or her eye muscles and tracking skills, but there is so much to see and talk about, and great new vocab to teach.

For Veronika, the soccer “game” was actually big brother’s practice. If you don’t have a big sib or friend to watch play, consider catching a local elementary school game, or even watching the big kids from a high school nearby!

Either way, Veronika seemed to love the atmosphere right away, soaking up the sun on a blanket despite an unusually chilly spring morning. I brought along a little ball so she could enjoy the tactile element, as well.

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We watched the big kids move down the field. I pointed out all their motions to her, which involved some great verbs. Running:

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Kicking:

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Drills where they dribbled or tapped cones with their feet:

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She was very absorbed watching it all – quite the little spectator!

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In sum, a game of soccer is a beautiful way to spend some time with your baby, long before he or she is old enough to play.

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Screen Scream!

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With firstborn baby, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going to a movie theater. I intended to allow no screens for my baby until age 2, and I worried about the noise level, or him making a fuss, or so much more.

Well, I’m a little more relaxed with Veronika as my second baby, and although I never sit her down in front of a screen, she’s no stranger to ambient movies, thanks to big brother.

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Today, I learned that even a movie theater can be an adorable outing with an infant! Even if you don’t have a big kid to take along, I recommend seeking out a matinee – it might be just the outing you need as a stay-at-home new parent, and baby is going to love it.

Here’s what Veronika did. She slept for the first 45 minutes, the loud audio of a dragon movie be darned. You can just see her stroller in the foreground.

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When she woke up, she looked nervous for a moment, but then nursed on my lap and peeked with big wide eyes at the screen. The lights and colors and music will be fascinating to a baby, even though they can’t follow the story!

I bounced her on my lap to keep her happy, which got little giggles. When she grew a bit fussy, I stood up with her in the aisle. Again, this is why I recommend a matinee. There was only one other family in the audience – a grandma with her granddaughters – and they weren’t at all troubled by me standing and bouncing Veronika off to the side.

After that she was tuckered out! She passed back out for the last half hour of the movie, sleeping peacefully on my tummy.

Here we are in the lobby after!

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I wish I’d been able to take pictures in the dark theater, because she was adorable and grinning while the movie was in progress. Here she seems to be asking Travis, “What on earth was that place?”

If a movie theater seems too daunting, consider checking out a puppet show! The kid-friendly atmosphere makes for a great showtime experience. I located a local theater and headed off with the kids to see Little Red Riding Hood.

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There was so much carnival atmosphere to take in that Veronika was instantly enchanted.

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I think she would have been happy just hanging out in the lobby!

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The kids even got a demonstration before the show began.

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Once in the theater, my little girl was wide-eyed and rapt. No sleeping here!

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Obviously the story was way over her head, but the idea is that your little one will take in the motions and colors and movements on the stage, plus get a first experience being part of an audience.

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Then there was a laser-lit dance party for the kids at the end. So yes, definitely a more kid-friendly atmosphere than a movie theater.

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What show will you take your baby to? Please share in the comments!

Go to the Zoo

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Now hold on; as my readers know, normally I don’t advocate taking children to zoos. There are too many sad stories of animals who are unhappy in captivity, and your money is far better spent at a sanctuary. But today, we were invited to an Easter event at a local petting zoo, and I will say that Veronika seemed delighted in this chance to see the animals. So with some hesitation, here is my post about it as a field trip.

For the most part, this place was more petting zoo than exotic zoo. That meant lots of chances to see familiar animals up close, like pigs, goats, cows, and ponies.

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The goats seemed to love Veronika! She also enjoyed seeing her brother feed them special cones filled with treats.

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As we paused by each animal enclosure, I pointed out the name and the animal’s features, and made the appropriate sounds (moo, oink, maa) to turn it into a learning experience.

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I will say, it was neat for a moment to see small primates, such as lemurs, who were kept in an enrichment environment.

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If you do find yourself at a zoo, there probably is a lot more for a young infant to look at and enjoy than just the animals. Veronika also got to see the train ride:

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Enjoy lunch time at a picnic table:

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Take in a silly chicken puppet show:

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Observe a playground with kid-sized houses:

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And so much more. She sure did look happy.

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We kept up the fun at home, going back over some of the animals we’d seen that day in her baby books.

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She seemed to especially like the fluffy bunnies that she’d seen at the special Easter event.

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You can also sing Old Macdonald Had a Farm while using a farm playset.

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It was good “review” of everything she’d seen in the afternoon!

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Visit a Home Store or Show

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I haven’t featured a field trip with baby in a while, and it was time to include a new destination – home stores!

Whether its an actual home expo or just shopping at a home store at your local mall, these venues are perfect for exposing baby to familiar sights and vocabulary expansion.

As we walked around, I named common items for Veronika. “Bed” is an obvious good one of course.

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Or couch, or chair, or table.

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She was wide awake and seemed fascinated by the light fixtures overhead. And seemed right at home in the baby section.

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And if baby falls asleep, no worries – you can still get some shopping done!

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Then, if there is one near you, check out a home show or expo. These are more of a vendor-driven event where your little one will be equally entertained by home appliances or demos.

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Truly everything was visually fascinating to Veronika. Check out the laundry machines!

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Ooh, tile samples were pretty.

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And big brother got a lollipop.

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In sum, the perfect way to entertain baby and get out for a bit.

Get Out and About

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Veronika is four months old, and that’s a great age for field trips! Although I posted a few suggestions for getting your infant out and about early on (to museums or plays, for example), let’s be honest; Veronika slept most of the time.

But now she’s wide-eyed and alert for roughly 2 hour stretches, and it’s a great time to revisit some of these old suggestions, plus add in a few new ones.

To wit, when I took her to an art museum this time, she didn’t doze off in front of the canvases. Instead, there was lots of wide-eyed gazing at the bright colors on the wall, even if she didn’t know what she was looking at.

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Or she occasionally preferred devouring a toy over admiring the art.

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Our particular local museum is perfect for families with children, with just two rooms, and activities for the big kids. Veronika loved watching Travis craft…

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… and paint on a digital computer.

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Whoops, she was sleeping by the time we were at an art gallery down the street! But that’s the other great thing about field trips with your 4-month-old. They still nap easily on the go, and hopefully she soaked up some of the ambiance.

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Another place to take baby at this age? A sporting event! This can mean a local high school game, or a minor league stadium, both of which are family-friendly. In our case, we hit up a local tennis expo.

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Another great option is a local market. We love our town’s farmers’ market, so I was thrilled to learn an indoor version is held in winter.

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Both kids loved this; Veronika got to take in the sights and smells – vibrant red apples, the yeasty aroma of fresh-baked bread – and Travis got a morning of culinary exploration and taste testing. Many markets – including ours – also feature musical entertainment, so check your local listings.

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Finally, we headed to a garden center. As with the farmers’ market, there were so many sights and smells here for a baby to soak in.

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We got lucky that the annual flower show had just opened, and was divided into areas featuring each of the five senses. Veronika got to smell flowers up close…

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…pause to hear waterfalls splashing in the “sound” area…

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…and marvel at butterflies and colors in the “sight” portion.

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Where else have you taken your little one? Please share in the comments!