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Fun & Educational Activities to Check Out in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Posted on October 17th, 2020

To all the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and caregivers out there; we see you! You’re doing the impossible – working from home while supervising virtual classrooms; homeschooling for the first time; teaching other kids while simultaneously teaching your own kids.

These are unprecedented times, but luckily Kalamazoo’s area attractions offer some of the best interactive, safe and fun activities to break up your mundane learning routine.

Maybe you’re a visitor looking for a long weekend destination and are searching for opportunities to to help your kids learn something new?

Read on to learn about some of the ways you can excite and treat your kids to safe learning experiences in Kalamazoo!

 

 

Air Zoo

 

The Air Zoo is a highly charged, multi-sensory aviation and science museum that goes beyond anything you’ve ever seen, and the perfect marriage of fun and educational for those looking to get out of the house while virtual learning this year!

 

 

While they have temporarily closed their rides, theater, flight simulators and several other hands-on interactives, there’s no shortage of things to discover.

 

 

You and your little ones can learn all about Women in Air & Space.

Among the exhibit’s anchors, Amelia: Adventurous Aviatrix highlights the three key eras of the iconic pilot’s life. Discover Amelia Earhart’s first passion (it wasn’t flight!), find out what she thought about comparisons to Charles Lindbergh, and note her numerous achievements.

 

 

Other notable exhibits include Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight,

which chronicles African Americans’ substantial contributions to aerospace and aviation. You’ll learn about this powerful group of aviation pioneers who challenged obstacles and created their own legacy in the world of flight.

 

Check out one of the newest exhibits, Alien Worlds and Androids

ou can join scientists in the search for alien life in and beyond our solar system! Explore 9 different themed environments that immerse you in the discoveries in space and the advances in technology that have led to increased speculation on the possibility of life beyond planet Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re not feeling up to leaving the house just yet, no worries! Register for Education@Home,

Education@Home is a series of home based programs that are great for engaging your children while they school at home! Some programs will have student material kits that can be shipped to your teacher or picked up at the Air Zoo and distributed to students, while other classes will have a material list of items most students have at home, like markers, paper, or tape.  In both cases, students will complete interactive activities with the Air Zoo Educator, live.

 

There are so many reasons to pack the kids up and treat them to a field trip at the Air Zoo, like the fact that it was named the “Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners” and “Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family” three years in a row! Not to mention, they’ve taken serious precautions to ensure the safety of you and your family. Read more about their new policies and procedures here.

 

 

 

 

Kalamazoo Nature Center

 

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is the perfect excuse to get out of the house to learn and connect with the natural world. Whether you’re hiking the trails, merging art and nature, declaring yourself a citizen scientist, or taking part in KNC’s Nature Now program from afar, this treasured Kalamazoo attraction offers opportunities to incorporate so many subjects into your learning curriculum!

 

 

 

Participate in a Program at the KNC or Virtually with NatureNow:

There are plenty of unique experiences at the nature center, but there are a few paid programs to take advantage of that allow for more personalized and behind the scenes experiences! Visitors can sign up for either Preschool or Elementary Explorers, or even be an Animal Caretaker for the day!

Not able to make it to the KNC? Check out some of the virtual NatureNow programs like their virtual Creature Features every Saturday!

 

 

 

Trails: 

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is home to over 14 miles of trails of various difficulty and a variety of habitats, winding through woods, wetlands, and prairies. Take in the view at Cooper’s Overlook, one of the highest points in Kalamazoo County, or join the KNC Hiking Spree and earn a medallion by hiking at least five trails!

 

 

 

Scavenger Hunt, Geocaching & Adventures: 

Pick up a Naturalist Back Pack at the Guest Services Desk with everything you need for an adventure along KNC trails or ask for information on scavenger hunts and geocaching.

 

 

 

Resident Animals & Wildlife:

 

See if you can spot the resident parakeet inside the Sun Rain Room, admire the Birds of Prey outside the Visitor Center, go bird watching, or walk to the Kalamazoo River to look for Bald Eagles and Osprey.

 

 

 

Art:

 

Visit the Glen Vista Gallery that has fresh, new art exhibits by local and regional artists every other month or Marvel at the sculptures along the Arboretum’s Sculpture Trail

 

 

 

 

Gilmore Car Museum

 

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The places work takes us!

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Today, the Gilmore Car Museum is North America’s largest auto museum with over 400 vehicles on display and over 190,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Museum’s 90-acre Historic Campus features numerous vintage structures including a restored and fully-functioning 1941 Silk City Diner, a recreated 1930s Shell Station, six onsite Partner Museums, and so much more.

Like every other museum, every inch of the Gilmore Car Museum can be turned into a unique and exciting in-person history lesson for those looking for educational opportunities away from the a computer or tablet screen, but here are a few exhibits that we recommend!

 

 

 

Dust Bowl: The Great Migration

 

The images of long lines at soup kitchens, farms buried by dirt, and gaunt faces peering from dilapidated vehicles illustrate only part of the story. This special display takes visitors beyond the dust bowl, with a revealing display of automobiles of the era including an extraordinary Duesenberg, custom-built for Hollywood’s elite, and other makes of the 1930s.

 

 

 

The Negro Motorist Green Book

 

Decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery, African Americans continued to suffer unequal treatment, especially in the South. Jim Crow Laws discriminated against Blacks in nearly every aspect of public life, including travel. Although the roads and highways were free for all to use, doing so was not easy for people of color. The Green Book, written by Victor Green, provided guidance for African American travelers to find safe locations to sleep, eat, shop and purchase gas. Locally, the guide was used by the Idelwild Chamber of Commerce in Michigan to assist Black American travelers in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

 

 

 

Kalamazoo. Institute of Arts

 

Take the family to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) for art class for a change of pace! The KIA has a rotation of special exhibits every year that feature both local and well-known artists. These exhibits feature multiple art mediums including watercolor, sculptures, oil painting and more.

The following upcoming exhibitions are what you can expect to learn more about on your next visit to the KIA!

 

 

 

Cultural Encounters: 

Art of the Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean
1945 – Present

 

The artists in this presentation reveal their countries relevance to global art dialogues, while also exploring the multifaceted nature of their identities and cultural heritage. Overall, Cultural Encounters presents a typically underrepresented period in art history, and sheds light on the Asian Diaspora s contributions to Latin American and Caribbean art and culture.

 

 

 

Unveiling American Genius:

Unveiling American Genius will show how artists across time and genres have conveyed our nations triumphs, its ambitions, its social structure, and even its failings.

 

 

 

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Selections from Our Asian Art Collection

Featuring works representing the arts of East Asia, and ranging in media and subject matter, this exhibition will reflect another aspect of our collecting focus. Viewers will see how the story of art continues to expand, presents new perspectives, and inspires us to connect with one another.

 

 

 

Art Class:

Did you know that you can also take classes at the KIA?

 

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Have you ever had one of those hobbies you just know in your gut you’d love? Something that relaxes you, or connects you, or pushes you. Something that you experience, or something that produces. An activity that whenever it crosses your path you think “Golly, I’d love to do that some day.” That thing. The activity you think only young people can do, or a hobby you fantasize about doing as an old lady….that was tonight for me. While not many people would describe ceramics as exhilarating, that’s not what I was looking for in this venture. I was looking for calm, screen free, work-with-your-hands groundedness. An art that teaches the skills of patience and self forgiveness. A hobby that, for a while, I’m going to be objectively really bad at doing. But then over time, maybe when I’m an old lady, I’ll be really good at it. So whatever it is you crave to do, to try, to learn…take a step toward it. Because it feels really good to honor what your soul craves. #oldladygoals #ceramics

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The Kirk Newman Art School offers both in-person and virtual classes! Classes range from ceramics, drawing and painting to creative writing photography,  jewelry making and more.

 

 

 

W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

 

The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is a unique wildlife center offering conservation-focused public programs, interpretive tours, and accessible trails that allow close views of captive and wild birds.

The sanctuary is open year round, with the grounds being open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Grounds are closed Monday and Tuesday.

 

 

 

Trails:

Explore three miles of trails and experience a variety of habitats surrounding Wintergreen Lake, the heart of the Sanctuary grounds.

 

 

 

Observe Sanctuary Birds:

 

Visitors will see a variety of birds that call the Sanctuary home, including the resident gamebirds, raptors, and waterfowl, including Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and a variety of duck species. The Sanctuary is a great place for birding and nature photography as well!

Birds of Prey enclosures feature both rare and common raptors, including Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Screech Owls and others

 

 

 

There is so much beauty to experience here. Don’t forget to buy a bucket of corn for $1 to feed the birds!