Learning Outside the Classroom: All Year Long

Learning isn’t only for the classroom. Activities, family trips and one’s heritage all offer an opportunity for educating children all year long.

  • Tour museums for learning and fun. The Pittsburgh area and surrounding suburbs share a number of well-known and quirky museums. And while one might overlook them as more of a thing to do on a cold winter day, museum touring boasts a unique learning experience.
    • “A museum offers a new setting for kids,” says Dr. Antoinette Saul, reading specialist at Allegheny Valley School District. “Kids get to see displays and artifacts that make the subject more alive. Not only can this spark an interest in a new area for kids, visual learners see demonstrations while hearing about them, too.”
    • Unusual and wacky museums outside the Pittsburgh region kids will love include Trash Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, Lunchbox Museum in Columbus, Georgia and Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, CA. Imagine the discussions you could have with your kids about the Trash Art, how lunchboxes have changed over the years or why such fascination with Pez dispensers have more than 900 dispensers created and collected? 
  • Rescue and protect our wild animals. Family trips provide an opportunity to learn about creatures outside of our Western Pennsylvania environment.
    • The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, North Carolina offers families real insight into the dangers sea turtles face and how the dedication of volunteers are able to save the lives of sea turtles. Summertime visits offer an informative view of the rescue quest.
    • Wes Moore, owner of Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama rescues alligators from places that could be dangerous to them and gives them a natural environment. As alligators have lost their fear of humans, they’ve become dangerous to people and their property and must be rescued. Visits to this alligator farm allow kids to learn more about the creatures and to actually hold them, too.
    • There are many rescue centers located throughout the country. If your child has a fondness for a particular animal, there probably is a dedicated rescue center. Surf the Internet for more information. Or ask your reference librarian for help.
  • Black History worth more than a month. Though February is deemed Black History Month, learning about the history and heritage goes beyond a month.
    • Places such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama are rich with educational programs, artifacts and architecture from museums to churches. 
    • Hopkinsville, Kentucky once held more than 200 thriving black-owned businesses, including doctors, lawyers, realtors and pharmacists. 
    • East Tennessee boasts well-known black artists such as legendary jazz singer Bessie Smith and Roots author Alex Haley.
    • Many of the churches in Mobile, Alabama date back to the 1800s. One of the oldest Methodist churches, State Street AME Church, established in 1854 and built for a Black congregation prior to the civil war. And The African American Heritage Trails tell the stories of the Unsung Heroes of Mobile’s past.
    • Whatever your child’s current day interests cover take it a step further by creating a Google search via the Internet for a link to the past and a way to discover more about Black History.